File photo of a low budget commercial airliner flydubai (R) landing at Dubai International airport
File photo of a low budget commercial airliner flydubai (R) landing at Dubai International airport © Karim Sahib - AFP/File
File photo of a low budget commercial airliner flydubai (R) landing at Dubai International airport
AFP
Last updated: January 27, 2015

Baghdad flights disrupted after bullet hits flydubai jet

A bullet hit the fuselage of a flydubai airliner on its descent into Baghdad, prompting a suspension of flights by UAE carriers to the Iraqi capital on Tuesday.

A bullet hit the fuselage of a flydubai airliner on its descent into Baghdad Tuesday, lightly wounding a young girl and prompting many carriers to suspend their flights, officials said.

"There was no consequence other than a slight injury to a young girl. The pilot landed and he was not aware of what had happened," Transport Minister Baqr Jabr al-Zubaidi told reporters at the airport.

Flight FZ215 was hit by "small arms fire" before landing on Monday but all passengers disembarked safely, a flydubai spokesperson told AFP.

The no-frills carrier, a sister firm of Emirates, said it was working with Iraqi authorities to investigate the incident, adding that it would continue to fly to other destinations in Iraq.

Other UAE carriers, including Emirates, Etihad and Air Arabia, suspended their flights to Baghdad, as did Turkish Airlines and Lebanon's Middle East Airlines (MEA).

"Emirates has suspended its services to Baghdad until further notice due to operational reasons," the Dubai-based carrier said.

The Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said it had "suspended all flights to the Iraqi city with immediate effect and until further notice."

The website of Sharjah-based budget carrier Air Arabia also showed that flights to Baghdad were not available.

MEA chief executive Mohammad al-Hout said Tuesday's Beirut-Baghdad service had been cancelled, although the airline's flights to other Iraqi cities were continuing as normal.

"As far as tomorrow's (flight) is concerned, we are waiting to assess the situation and see what steps are going to be taken before deciding," he told AFP.

- Minister plays down incident -

A Turkish Airlines official told AFP its Tuesday flights to Baghdad had been cancelled for "operational reasons," and Royal Jordanian said it was suspending its flights until the situation cleared up.

"What happened was an accident. Brothers from the security forces met the leaders of civil aviation and discussed the source of the shot that hit an Emirati aircraft," the Iraqi minister said.

He said his ministry would provide flights with national carrier Iraqi Airways to all passengers stranded in airports in the region.

Zubaidi then embarked on an aircraft for a short flight around Baghdad meant to show there was no security threat.

"I call on all transport ministers to push for the resumption of flights to Baghdad airport," he said after returning from his stunt.

He said that a total of 40 flights had taken off and landed on Tuesday, most of them local flights.

Zubaidi added that more were scheduled for the rest of the day and that a Turkish Airlines flight was due to land on Wednesday.

Western airlines flying over Iraq have taken extra precautions in recent months for fear that jihadists from the Islamic State group might acquire weapons able to hit cruising airliners.

Baghdad International Airport is located west of the capital, near the border with Anbar province, which is largely controlled by IS fighters.

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