Pact pending governments agreement

UK airline bmi said it wants to re-launch direct flights between London Heathrow Airport and Baghdad.

Daily flights could begin as early as spring 2010 if UK and Iraqi governments grant permission and sign a bilateral agreement.

Bmi’s chief executive Nigel Turner said during a London forum that he had sent a letter to Iraq’s transport minister Amr Abduljabber Ismail.

The forum was attended by more than 500 delegates comprising of interested investors and government officials from both countries, including Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Lord Mandelson, UK business and enterprise secretary.

Mr Turner said that bmi currently serves countries surrounding Iraq and therefore it “makes both geographical and economic sense for us to add Iraq to our growing network of services to the region.”

Following the signing of a “broad-ranging memorandum” by both Mr Maliki and Lord Mandelson yesterday (April 30) to “foster closer economic relations”, Mr Turner said that he was confident the UK and Iraqi governments would sign the bilateral agreements to let the flights go ahead.

Douglas Alexander, the UK international development secretary, said during the conference that 19 British companies had submitted $10bn worth of investment proposals since autumn 2008.

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