The Latest: FlyDubai may halt service to Iraqi Kurdish city

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the fallout from the independence referendum held by Iraq’s Kurdish region this week, which has escalated tensions with Baghdad. (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

Low-cost airline FlyDubai says its flights to the Iraqi city of Irbil are in question from Saturday on, after Iraq called on international carriers to suspend flights to the Kurdish region following a divisive independence referendum.

The carrier said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday that its flight Friday will operate as scheduled. It says “we are aware of the situation and are liaising with our local representative regarding our operations from” Saturday.

Irbil is the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, which held a non-binding referendum on independence Monday that was widely expected to be approved.

The vote is unlikely to lead to formal independence, however, and has angered Iraq’s central government and its neighbors, all of which are staunchly opposed to any redrawing of borders.

Middle East Airlines and EgyptAir have said they will halt service to Irbil.

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3:30 p.m.

Egypt’s national airline will suspend flights between Cairo and Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, after the Kurds angered Baghdad and Iraq’s neighbors by holding an independence referendum this week.

EgyptAir said in a statement Wednesday that the decision goes into effect starting Friday and will remain until further notice.

Iraq’s Transport Ministry has ordered all international carriers to suspend flights to the Kurdish region starting Friday. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has given the Kurds until then to hand over control of their airports to federal authorities or face a flight ban.

EgyptAir has three flights a week between Cairo and Irbil.

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12:20 p.m.

A Lebanese airline official says the country’s flagship carrier airline will halt its flights to and from Irbil, the capital in Iraq’s Kurdish region.

The official says Wednesday the Middle East Airlines flights will be halted starting Friday.

The decision comes after the Kurdish region claimed victory in an independence referendum that has been vehemently rejected by Baghdad and Iraq’s other neighbors.

Iraq’s prime minister had ordered the Kurdish region to hand over control of its airports to federal authorities or face a flight ban.

The Lebanese airline has one flight per day to Irbil. The official said all flights coming from Irbil will also not be allowed to land in Beirut’s International airport. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

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