Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad Airways will become the first UAE airline to fly direct to Iraq with flights to Baghdad starting from 26 April subject to government and regulatory approvals.

Etihad will offer five flights to Baghdad each week and will then expand its presence in Iraq by starting flights to Erbil on 1 June.

The carrier launched cargo operations to Baghdad in September 2009.

A number of regional and international airlines are also starting to return to Iraq, including Bahrain’s Gulf Air, Germany’s Lufthansa and Royal Jordanian.