Iraq launches its first privately owned budget airline, 'Fly Baghdad,' as the government allows greater competition. Hayley Platt reports.
It's a fleet of one - for now anyway. Fly Baghdad is Iraq's first privately owned budget airline. The company was formed by a group of Iraqi businessmen with big plans for their small fleet. Abdulla Al Jubouri is its Executive Director. SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF FLY BAGHDAD AIRLINES, ABDULLA AL JUBOURI, SAYING: "Previously Iraq was a Socialist regime which didn't allow privatisation, all sectors were owned by the government, and if there were companies, they were small and limited." The airline offers domestic flights only - for now. It runs two to three flights a day between Baghdad and Erbil. And plans to add Basrah and Najaf later. Decades of sectarian violence has crippled the country's economy. Falling oil prices, haven't helped either. Iraq holds the world's third largest reserves of crude. Now its new broad-based government wants to encourage greater market competition to help get the country back on its feet. Chris Beauchamp of IG. SOUNDBITE: Chris Beauchamp, Market Analyst, IG, saying (English): "I think it's quite a brave step for Iraq to deregulate this but I think its a welcome one and hopefully it will be followed by others in that region. The best way to stimulate economic growth is not with the hand of the state but with the hand of the free market." It's early days for the low-cost airline. But if things go well, Fly Baghdad could one day be jetting to international destinations as well.