Iraqi Air Says It Will Still Land London Flights Amid Kuwaiti Asset Freeze

Iraqi Airways said a U.K. order freezing its assets won’t prevent it from landing flights in London during a lawsuit by Kuwait Airways Corp. over stolen aircraft during the first Gulf War.

Justice Nigel Teare at the High Court in London refused today to give an order stating that an aircraft scheduled to land tonight isn’t subject to a worldwide asset freeze. Lawyers for Iraqi Air said the flight from Baghdad will land anyway, along with all others on its twice-weekly schedule.

“It will land tonight” said Iraqi Air’s lawyer, Stephen Nathan of Blackstone Chambers in London, in an interview outside court. “There is no legal impediment.”

Kuwait Air is seeking $1.2 billion in compensation for 10 planes taken when Iraq, under the rule of Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Kuwait Air won a U.K. court order to freeze the Baghdad-based airline’s global assets on April 25, the same day as an Iraqi Air flight landed in London for the first time in 20 years.

U.K. authorities seized the passport of Iraqi Air’s director general, Jabar Hassan, who arrived on that flight. He was served with the court order on behalf of the company and barred from leaving England or Wales. Teare has given Hassan permission to travel to Scotland over the weekend.

“Jabar has been the subject of an improper worldwide freezing order that was improperly obtained,” Nathan said in court.

Kuwait Air’s lawyer, David Scorey, said the freeze order was properly granted.

Continued Expansion

Iraqi Airways, the country’s national carrier, said earlier this month the Kuwait Air case won’t deter it from expanding and that it has received four of the 10 planes it ordered from Bombardier Inc. The Kuwaiti carrier tried to block those aircraft from leaving Canada in a similar court action.

Iraqi Airways was grounded by an international embargo after the first Gulf War. It resumed service to Arab states after the U.S.-led ouster of Hussein in 2003 and flew its first flights to Europe in March 2009. The carrier now flies to 13 airports in Arab countries and Europe.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in New York at elarson4@bloomberg.net

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