Sulaimani Airport Financial Damages Amount To $3.5 Million, Says Official
Financial damages for the Sulaymaniyah International Airport caused by the ban of the international flights on the Kurdistan Region’s airports are estimated at $3.5 million USD, a Kurdish official said.
Director of the Sulaymaniyah International Airport, Tahir Abdulla, told Voice of America on Thursday (December 29) that the suspension of international flights has caused “great damage” to the region’s airports and the companies operating inside it.
“The Sulaymaniyah [International] Airport has suffered nearly $40,000 to $50,000 in damages every day. The total is nearly $3.5 million for the [last] three months,” Abdulla added.
The suspension of international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region’s airports is part of the “punishment package” by the Iraqi government following the referendum for independence of Kurdistan on September 25.
Erbil International Airport reported on its website that, since December 17, more than 1500 flights have been cancelled and that passenger numbers travelling through the airport have also plunged.
“In October, passenger numbers fell by 72% - to 44,504, compared to 159,237 in 2016. In November, passenger numbers fell by 64% - to 47,384 compared to 129,793 in 2016. Cargo tonnage has all but disappeared during the same period, with monthly averages of 2,500 tons plunging to less than 10 tons,” the airport stated.
Iraqi authorities have extended the suspension on the Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airports until February 28, 2018, according to the Kurdish airports.
Baghdad severed Kurdistan Region’s air links to the outside world in late September after it voted overwhelmingly for independence in a non-binding referendum rejected as illegal by the central government.
The two-month extension sees Baghdad keeping up the pressure on the region as the fallout from the failed independence push has battered its economy.