The Iraqi Ministry of Transportation formed a new committee to draw up an extensive work plan for building civilian airports in the provinces of Maysan, Salah al-Din, Anbar, Kirkuk and Dhi Qar.
Nassir Hussain al-Shebli, chairman of the Airport Construction Committee, said the ministry decided last week to draw up the plan after it received many requests from provinces to build airports.
"At first, we will study all these requests," al-Shebli told Mawtani. "They will be approved as per special criteria that we have set for this purpose, including the economic feasibility of the project, population density in the province where the construction of an airport is requested and the growth of investments in it."
The Ministry of Transportation plans to sign an agreement with France's Aeroports de Paris International (ADPI) to provide consultancy services and draw up engineering designs for the airports, which will be offered to international companies as investment opportunities.
There are six international airports in Iraq located in the provinces of Baghdad, Mosul, Basra, Najaf, Sulaimaniyah and Erbil.
Najaf airport is the most recently constructed airport. It was officially inaugurated on July 20th 2008 on a former military airbase. The airport currently accommodates about 30 million passengers a year.
Minister of Transportation Amer Abdul Jabbar confirmed in press statements published November 22nd that his ministry was determined to construct additional airports, especially in the provinces that are witnessing an influx of international investment companies.
"Iraq will soon be one of the most important countries in the Middle East region in the field of air transportation," Abdul Jabbar said. "This is due to the country's success in attracting many countries and strengthening their aviation role in the country."
ADPI has already drawn up designs for the construction of Karbala International Airport, a giant project that the ministry will start constructing early next year. The cost of the project has been estimated at $100 million and it will be completed over three stages extending for five years. The airport is expected to accommodate about 22 million passengers a year and to create about 70,000 job opportunities.
Meanwhile, a Lebanese architectural company has completed designs for Duhok Airport, which will be constructed on an area of about 12 kilometers at a cost of $5.25 million. The airport will accommodate about 1 million passengers a year and construction will begin early next year.
"The expansion through building many airports entails different positive aspects, the most important of which is the enhancement of country's openness to the outside world and facilitation of domestic and international movement of goods and persons. This is in addition to the other economic and touristic benefits," said Baghdad resident Omar Hadi, 46.
Sanaa Jassim, 34, also of Baghdad, said the airports would connect Iraqis in different provinces and internationally. "It is a great thing to have an international airport built in each province."