Lebanon's Middle East Airlines (MEA) announced plans to resume flights to the city of Erbil, administrative capital of northern Iraq's Kurdistan region, following an almost six-month hiatus, according to Anadolu.
In a statement carried by government media, Lebanon’s flagship carrier said it would resume flights to Erbil -- with four flights a week -- starting Apr. 3.
MEA suspended all flights to Erbil on Sept. 27 against the backdrop of a severe falling-out between Baghdad and the Erbil-based Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) caused by the latter’s decision to hold a referendum on regional independence.
In the wake of the Sept. 25 poll, Baghdad imposed a raft of punitive measures on the KRG, including a ban on international flights into and out of the Kurdish region; closure of all the region’s international border crossings; and the deployment of federal forces in parts of the country said to be “disputed” between Baghdad and Erbil.
Earlier this month, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the international flight ban on the region would be lifted before the Nowruz spring festival, which falls on March 21.
In another sign of thawing relations, the KRG's Finance Ministry on Monday announced that Baghdad -- for the first time since 2014 -- had consented to pay the salaries of its employees based in the Kurdish region.
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