Several flights heading to Baghdad were cancelled after a passenger plane was hit with gunfire. According to reports, the plane had arrived from Dubai, the busiest airport in the Mideast when after landing, it came under fire.
For Iraqi travelers, as well as diplomats, aid workers, and businesspeople overseas that depend on foreign flights to get them into larger international transit airports, specifically those in the Gulf, could face serious travel impacts.
Bayan Jabr, Transportation Minister in Iraq said that officials feel the shooting was not intentional. At this time, authorities are looking at the possibility that someone was firing rounds at some type of social event, perhaps a funeral or wedding but the option of this being a terrorist attack has not been ruled out.
In all, the passenger plane was hit with three rounds, one that actually penetrated the cabin where passengers were sitting. As a result, a young girl in the cabin experienced a minor wound. Immediately following the shooting, airport security tightened. The area where the shooting came from has been carefully checked as well. Jabr urged airlines to continue making flights into Iraq.
The plane that was hit was FlyDubai flight 215. Authorities have confirmed the shooting, saying it appears it was gun fire from a smaller caliber weapon. After the shooting, passengers exited the plan and although the one girl was injured, no one required medical attention.
To get the passengers to Dubai, several different flights were used. The FlyDubai flight going from Baghdad for tomorrow was cancelled as a result of the situation. Currently, that airline is working closely with authorities to complete the investigation as to whether the gunfire was intentional or not.
The Iraqi Ambassador was summoned by the Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding concerns of the shooting incident, which included a demand on authorities from Iraq to launch their own investigation but to also take any measures necessary to ensure international agreements on passenger flight safety is enforced.
Until further notice, the region’s biggest airline, Dubai-based Emirates, is suspending all flights going into and coming out of the Iraqi capital because of concerns pertaining to operations and safety. Those suspensions will remain in effect until further notice.
However, Emirates flights to Irbil and Basra will continue. In addition, Etihad Airways is also suspending flights into and out of Baghdad indefinitely, as is Air Arabia, Gulf Air, and Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines.