Ash grounds first Baghdad-London flight in 20 years

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BAGHDAD: A huge cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland on Friday grounded the first commercial flight between Baghdad and London in 20 years, Iraqi officials told AFP.

An Iraqi Airways flight to the British capital, via Malmo in Sweden, would have been the first such journey since sanctions imposed by the UN after Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait came into effect.

“The ceremony planned for Friday had to be postponed because of the volcano in Iceland, said a spokesman for the Iraqi transport ministry. “We will go ahead when the conditions improve, possibly on Saturday or Sunday.

Iraqi Transport Minister Amer Abduljabbar Ismail was among the passengers who was expected to take the London flight.

“Foreign and Iraqi passengers and the minister himself were booked on the plane, the spokesman added.

The volcano on Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted soon after midnight on Wednesday and has since been spewing out ash that has forced air traffic authorities to cancel thousands of flights across much of Europe. -AFP

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