x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Iraqi airline to fight assets freeze

Iraqi Airways to appeal a court decision that ordered to freeze its accounts, following a lawsuit by Kuwait Airways, the longest running case in the history of the UK Courts.

Iraqi Airways has appealed against a court decision to freeze its bank accounts in Jordan in response to a lawsuit filed by Kuwait Airways.

The Iraqi Airways office in Amman was seized and US$1.5 million (Dh5.5m) of its assets frozen after the May 10 order by a Jordanian court.

"We want to go back to the courts and see if we can lift the asset freeze," Karim al Nuri, a media adviser at the Iraqi ministry of transport, said yesterday. "What happened in Amman was a very aggressive approach by our Kuwaiti brothers."

Kuwait Airways is seeking $1.2 billion of compensation for what it claims is the theft of 10 aircraft and spare parts as a result of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The state-run airline won a UK court order last year freezing Iraqi Airwaysassets. Until recently, a UN mandate has covered Iraq's financial assets to shield its oil and other revenues from billions of dollars of international claims stemming from the era of Saddam Hussein. From July 1, the country will no longer be immune to financial claims, including those made by Kuwait Airways.

The Kuwaiti airline has also been pursuing the case in Canada, where court decisions cleared the way for the seizure of buildings owned by Iraq as well as regional jets that Iraq ordered from Bombardier, which is based in Montreal.

A lawyer for Kuwait Airways said last week the carrier would go after state and airline assets in 15 jurisdictions where the UK court ruling was enforceable.

With no end to the dispute in sight, the Iraqi government decided last year to put Iraqi Airways into bankruptcy, shielding it from legal liability. The carrier is continuing to operate as its finances and legal problems are addressed.

"We are still trying to find an amicable solution with the Kuwaitis, but the threatening approach from their side is not helping," Mr al Nuri said.