A photo posted on Twitter on Tuesday, carried by ‘Al Bayan’ newspaper, shows the damage caused to the FlyDubai airplane due to bullets fired while it was landing at Baghdad Airport.
Al Bayan reports that initial investigations suggest the gun-shots came from a wedding being held at the time.
A Flydubai aircraft reportedly came under fire just as it landed at Baghdad International Airport on Monday, January 26, 2015.
An airline spokesperson confirmed the incident, stating the matter is under investigation but added in a later update that preliminary investigations suggest that the airline's aircraft may not have been the target of the small arms fire and that the shots may have been unintentional.
“After landing at Baghdad International Airport (BGW) on January 26, 2015, damage to the aircraft fuselage consistent with small arms fire was discovered on Flydubai flight FZ 215,” the spokesperson said.
“All the passengers disembarked normally through the jet bridge. No medical attention was required at the airport.
“As part of the ongoing investigation, Flydubai is working with the authorities to understand the circumstances that led to the damage of its aircraft. Preliminary information indicates that the damage sustained is consistent with small arms fire and at this early stage appears to be non-intentional,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Emirates 24|7.
The earlier statement concluded: “Passengers from Baghdad to Dubai were accommodated on a replacement aircraft. An investigation is underway to establish what happened.”
UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs summons Iraqi ambassador
The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has expressed its grave concern over the firing on Monday of gunshots at Flydubai's Dubai-bound flight FZ 215 at Baghdad International Airport.
The MoFA also summoned on Tuesday Iraqi Ambassador to the UAE Muwaffaq Mehdi Abboud to express its grave concern over the incident.
During the meeting, MoFA Undersecretary Mohammed Mer Al Raisi expressed the UAE's concern and demanded that the Iraqi authorities launch a comprehensive investigation in order to identify all the circumstances surrounding the shooting incident, and take necessary measures to enforce international agreements on civil aviation safety and provide the required guarantees and protection.
Iraqi news agency earlier reported two passengers, including a little girl on board, was wounded in the shooting.
'Al Awan' newspaper quoted informed sources in Baghdad saying: “Sources believe the attack was launched from an area close to the runway where the plane landed.”
Emirates, Etihad suspend flight services to Baghdad
Emirates and Etihad Airways have suspended flight services to Baghdad, until further notice. In an update on its official website, Emirates has cited "operational reasons", further stating: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers.
In a statement to Emirates 24|7, an airline spokesperson said: “Emirates can confirm that we are suspending our flights to and from Baghdad due to operational and safety concerns.
“This took effect from 26 January until further notice.”
The airline further stated that operations to other cities in Iraq remained unaffected.
The spokesperson continued: “Our services to other points in Iraq – Erbil and Basra continue to operate as scheduled. We remain committed to our customers in Iraq and hope to resume services to Baghdad as soon as operational conditions allow us to do so.
“Our customer service team is contacting affected customers to assist them with making alternative travel arrangements. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Customers can also check emirates.com for the latest flight status.”
Customers are advised to contact their travel agent or Emirates Call Centers for rebooking options, and visit the website for further updates.”
Meanwhile, Etihad has also posted a travel alert that says: “To comply with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority ban on operation to and from Baghdad on security grounds, Etihad Airways has suspended all flights to the Iraqi city with immediate effect and until further notice.
“The safety of our customers and employees is always our first priority. We will continue to work closely with the authorities and monitor the security situation before recommencing scheduled services to Baghdad.”
Etihad states it is offering the following options for guests who have already purchased tickets for travel to/from Baghdad: cancellations and refunds permitted free of charge whether the ticket is wholly or partially utilised. The refund on partially utilised ticket will be calculated based on the pro-rata mileage flown.
Any cancellation/refund fees and service fees will be waived. Re-routing and endorsements onto other airlines are not permitted.
An airline spokesperson stated: “Air Arabia follows the directives issued by the UAE Civil Aviation Authority in regards to the reported incident at Baghdad International Airport.”