Iraqi Airways has ordered 65 new aircraft with a total value of $5.5bn as the airline seeks to increase the size of its fleet.

The new aircraft on order include Canada’s Bombardier CRJ, also known as Canadair Regional Jets and Boeing 737 and 787 aircraft from the US.

Iraq’s national carrier currently has a fleet of 15 aircraft and is scheduled to receive all the new aircraft by the end of 2017.

Iraqi Airways flies to eight destinations including London, Istanbul, Cairo, Amman, Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran and Dubai.

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority is also expected to launch three private airlines by the end of 2012. Alnaser Airlines, Iraq’s first private airline, started operations in 2009 and launched flights to Dubai in May 2010.

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority says it will sign a bilateral agreement with India on 22 May that will allow civil aviation activities between the two countries. Iraqi authorities hope to sign similar agreements with Malaysia and China later in 2010.

A number of regional airlines have started flights to Iraq this year as security in the country improves.

Dubai’s state-owned carrier Emirates is scheduled to begin flights to Baghdad on 1 July.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways became the first UAE airline to fly to Iraq when it launched flights to Baghdad on 26 April (MEED 18:4:10).

The airline will also launch operations to Erbil on 1 June.

Bahrain’s Gulf Air and Royal Jordanian also fly to Iraq.