Iraqi low-cost carrier Fly Baghdad has suspended all operations and cancelled flights on every route following sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department.
The sanctions, levied by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on January 22, target the airline and its CEO, Basheer Abdulkadhim Alwan al-Shabanni, for allegedly providing material support to Iranian-backed militias.
In response to these allegations, Fly Baghdad has asserted its innocence, stating it has not engaged in any illegal activities. Nonetheless, the Iraqi government, under the directive of Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, has initiated an investigation into the claims.
“Fly Baghdad denounces this decision as it is not based on any material or moral evidence that could convict the company. The company has worked for years under the direct supervision of the Iraqi government, represented by the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority [ICAA – ed. note], and the Ministry of Transport.”
Operational Suspension: Fly Baghdad Ceases Flights Indefinitely
Due to these developments, Fly Baghdad has announced an immediate halt to its operations until further notice. The suspension of operations has also led to a financial complication for the airline. Currently unable to access its bank accounts, Fly Baghdad is reportedly incapable of issuing refunds to passengers for the cancelled flights. Consequently, the airline has requested assistance from the Iraqi government to arrange alternative transportation for its customers, utilizing other Iraqi and foreign carriers.
Prior to the suspension, Fly Baghdad operated 32 routes, as indicated by OAG Schedules Analyser data. The airline’s network included international destinations such as Beirut, Damascus, Dubai, Istanbul, and Tehran. For the week starting January 22, 2024, the airline was scheduled to offer approximately 39,000 seats across its network.
Airline Accused of Aiding Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard
OFAC’s allegations against Fly Baghdad include accusations of aiding Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard and its associated groups in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. This purported assistance encompasses the transportation of fighters, weapons, and financial resources to Syria and Lebanon.
This sanction by the U.S. follows a previous action by the European Union, which, on November 30, banned Fly Baghdad from operating within its borders. The EU cited the airline’s failure to meet international safety standards as the reason for the ban.