Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) (IATA: BGW) is approximately 16 kilometers from the city center. After minor damage during the conflicts, the airport is now fully operational and expanding due to Iraq’s recovery.
Iraqi Airways, the national airline, has a fleet of 15 aircraft. Their primary business is domestic flights, although they also fly to London and Stockholm, as well as several airports in the Middle East and South Asia.
Austrian or Turkish Airlines are the best options for flights from Europe to Baghdad. Austrian Airlines operates four weekly flights from Vienna (IATA: VIE) to BIAP. Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul (IATA: IST) to BIAP on a daily basis.
Royal Jordanian Airlines offers two daily roundtrip flights from Amman to the Middle East (IATA: AMM). Emirates and the low-cost airline flydubai come in Baghdad on a daily basis.
Erbil International Airport [www] is the best-connected and safest airport. Most European and Middle Eastern airlines, including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Royal Jordanian, and Etihad, operate flights into Iraqi Kurdistan. Because it is safer than the rest of Iraq and serves as a regional economic center, Iraqi Kurdistan has experienced tremendous development and investment since 2003.
Gryphon Airlines is available to diplomats, private military contractors, and intelligence operatives. Gryphon operates flights between BIAP’s military side and Kuwait City.
Turkish airlines fly to Van, Turkey from most western cities through Istanbul; from there, a cab will transport you to the border for the equivalent of USD35-200, depending on your negotiating abilities (Turkish drivers will only usually accept Lira, euros or pounds sterling)
There are two charter planes that fly into BIAP for people working for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Iraq. Skylink and AirServ provide regular service. Travel on any of these services needs sponsorship from your NGO in order to be included to each service’s authorized traveller list. Schedules and services may be erratic and often vary.
The airport is controlled by the Iraqi government. The Iraqi Ministry of Transportation oversees takeoffs and landings at BIAP. As a consequence of many key components of Air Traffic Control equipment not being switched on, BIAP can only handle Visual Flight Rule (VFR) landings, not instrument landings. As a result, the area’s regular sandstorms may impair sight and force aircraft to be diverted. Due to poor visibility on the runway, it is very uncommon for commercial aircraft to make it all the way to BIAP before turning around and returning to their origin. In order to avoid the high risk of ground-based assaults, arriving civilian aircraft descend in a tight spiral from cruising altitudes inside protected BIAP airspace.
Be prepared for lengthy, chaotic, and extremely sluggish queues wherever you go while leaving from BIAP. If you are not working on a government contract in Iraq, your entry to the airport grounds will require you and your car to wait in line to be checked approximately three or four miles from the airport terminal. These security checks may take two to three hours to complete. The ideal approach is to locate lodgings inside the BIAP area of control the day before your trip so that you are not exposed to the lengthy wait and miss your flight.
All airlines operating at BIAP have a strict luggage matching procedure. All baggage, whether carry-ons or checked luggage, are lined up close to the aircraft on the runway. Before a baggage handler and security officers can match it and put it into the hold, each passenger must personally touch and claim their luggage. Bags left on the tarmac after the boarding procedure is completed are not loaded and are transported from the terminal area to a secure location for disposal.
A once-weekly passenger train has been restored into operation between Gaziantep in southern Turkey and Mosul, traversing a small stretch of Syrian land, after a twenty-year hiatus. It left Gaziantep at 21:00 every Thursday and landed in Mosul at 14:00 the following day, paying €25 per person. By train, this was the only route to get to Iraq. (Updated in August 2010.) The Gaziantep–Mosul service has been stopped until further notice due to a request from Iraqi Railways. The train is still listed on the Turkish State Railways website, with the notation that it is temporarily out of service, indicating that it is expected to return to operation in the near future. Any effort to traverse Syrian territory in 2012-2013 is not recommended owing to the country’s continuing, deadly internal strife.)
Cars may be the riskiest mode of entry into the nation. When you get to the border, it’s a good idea to trade in your taxi/rental vehicle for an armoured 4×4, which can be hired for GBP300 (USD460) approx. from the British security firm GENRIC, along with an armed guard if needed.
Driving in from Turkey is the most convenient way to reach the country’s northernmost region. In comparison to the rest of the nation, this part of the country is quite safe. Border police and locals will advise you on which cities are safe to visit (Zakho, Dohuk, Erbil, As-Sulaymaniyah, and so on) and which towns to avoid (Zakho, Dohuk, Erbil, As-Sulaymaniyah, and so on) (such as Mosulor Baghdad).
You will travel south-east from Diyarbakir, Turkey, to Zakho, Iraq. It is possible to take a taxi that has been pre-arranged; the average cost of this taxi trip is USD150, and the majority of the drivers only speak Kurdish or Arabic. You will often change cabs at Silopi, just five minutes from the Iraqi border, or change automobiles around 70 kilometers from the border and carry on from there. After that, the taxi driver will handle all of your paperwork at the border. This entails your driver going from building to building, stamping and approving papers. For the Turkish side of the border, you must have a photocopy of your passport, which you must leave with them (the photocopy, not your passport).
A considerably less costly alternative is to take a bus straight from Diyarbakir to Silopi. This will not cost more than TRY20. It’s simple to catch a cab to Zakho from the Silopi otogar (bus stop). All of the photocopying and documentation for the Turkish side may be handled by a competent cab driver.
At this point, you will have completed your drive over the border into Iraq. After that, your taxi driver will take you to the Iraqi immigration and customs department. All people and cars entering Iraq must be checked for contraband by customs officials, and their vehicles must be registered and pay a stamp fee; however, searches are not always performed. Without this stamp fee, it is unlawful for a non-Iraqi vehicle to buy gasoline at any of the country’s state-run gas stations. After paying any import taxes to customs and getting the vehicle stamp, immigration officials will examine your passport and, if you have a visa, will stamp it. Furthermore, at certain land border crossings, your fingerprint and/or picture will be collected. There was no visa charge at this border crossing as of July 2008.
You will now be at the border taxi stop, a few kilometers outside of Zakho’s city center, and may need to take another taxi to go to Zakho’s city center (IQD5,000-10,000). It costs about USD40 to take a cab from the Turkish city where you swapped vehicles to Zakho. This is a secure location where you may meet up with pals or charter a cab to another area of the nation. While you wait, sip some tea.
Be prepared for a lengthy trip if you are crossing the Jordanian border. The journey across the eastern Jordanian desert resembles a lunar landscape. The trip from Amman to Baghdad may take between 10-15 hours. You’ll leave Amman between 5:00 and 10:00 a.m. and arrive at the border crossing four hours later. On a good day, the border crossing may take an hour and a half to more than five or six hours. It typically takes half as long to enter Iraq as it does to leave. Jordanian immigration and customs officials are extremely picky about who they let in, and they often close their side of the border and refuse to let anybody through for unexplained reasons.
The journey from the border to Baghdad is very hazardous. The road is rife with highway robbers and bands of criminals that prey on unsuspecting travelers. Traveling this road without sufficient communications equipment or firearms of any sort is STRONGLY ADVISED. Make no stops along this route; if traffic gets stopped on the highway for any reason (other than a potential IED), it is advisable to loop until traffic flows again. Vehicles, particularly those inhabited by westerners, are vulnerable to assault at any moment. Carry additional gasoline as well as lots of food.
Crossing the Kuwaiti border is equally as tough as crossing the Jordanian border. The Kuwaiti border is made much more difficult by the fact that Kuwaiti immigration and customs officials are even stricter than Jordanian authorities, and anything may lead them to prevent your entrance or departure at their discretion. Sneaking into a military convoy is not recommended since the turret gunners in the convoy may mistake your vehicle for a suicide attacker.
In Iraq, reliable yet unobtrusive transportation is essential. Buying a vehicle that blends in with the other vehicles on the road is usually the best option. Toyota, Hyundai, and Kia, as well as lesser-known Eastern European and Asian manufacturers, are widely available. BMWs and Mercedes are also found in Iraq, although they are less frequent, particularly the good ones with the steering wheel on the right side.
Iraq may be entered from Jordan by a bus from Amman. Other nations may operate buses to Iraq. Third-country citizens may also enter Iraq for employment reasons using buses that often leave from Kuwait.