x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Q&A: Lufthansa's Christoph Meier

The German airline's regional head of corporate communications talks about plans to operate services to Iraq.

a Iraq is an interesting growth market which ideally complements our route network in the Middle East. Connecting Baghdad and Erbil to our network via hubs in Frankfurt and Munich will link Iraq to over 100 European destinations and 200 worldwide.

Economic activity in Iraq is picking up at a rapid pace. There is a lot of investment into the country's battered infrastructure, be it in the telecommunications sector, in transportation or, last but not least, in the energy sector. In the wake of growing demand for business travel, which comes as a result of this economic activity, we expect increasing demand for private travel as the country returns to a post-war society and Iraqi citizens start travelling again.

Demand is driven by Iraq's economic expansion. Military travel can be expected to shrink as the number of international troops present in Iraq is being reduced.

Our security experts continuously monitor all of our destinations including operational matters - air-traffic control, airport infrastructure and services, security processes for the passengers on the ground - as well as the general security situation. We have conducted, and continue to conduct, extensive security audits in Iraq. Lufthansa would not operate flights to Iraq if its security experts had any reason to doubt a safe operation.

Special precautions are in place for a number of destinations in our global route portfolio. The measures differ from case to case. The extensive and continuous security audits are one example in the case of Iraq. For obvious reasons, we cannot reveal further details.

We applied for traffic rights at the German aviation authorities, which have been granted. We are still evaluating all kinds of operational and commercial aspects and plan to start our operation to Iraq this summer. igale@thenational.ae