The winters in Detroit are long, cold and brutal … whereas the average temperatures in Baghdad in March is a pleasant 62f/16c … so scheduled service from Detroit to Baghdad should be popular … OK, not really, but scheduled services from a U.S. carrier, namely Delta Air Lines, to Detroit to Baghdad actually makes sense.
Earlier in the week the Iraqi Ministry of Transport announced that it would allow scheduled service from Baghdad to Michigan. This announcement has only one logical airport and one logical airline to be starting service…especially since the former Northwest Airlines, now Delta Air Lines, had applied for this route quite some time ago.
On the surface this route may seem unusual, however Royal Jordanian Airlines has been flying from Detroit to Amman, Jordan, successfully due to the significant Middle Eastern population in Detroit. Royal Jordanian’s route is almost entirely “origin & destination” traffic, rather than “connecting” traffic.
The substantial Middle Eastern population, which includes one of the largest Iraqi populations in the United States, residing in Dearborn and Warrendale, should be enough to sustain the route with both passenger traffic and cargo traffic.
Since no airline would start a route based in a single traveller demographic in these tough financial times, Delta Air Lines can tap another highly lucrative travelers base … those flying on U.S. official business and U.S. government contracts that must fly on U.S. flag carrying airlines under the Fly America Act.
While the U.S. Military will be departing Iraq in the near future, the U.S. presence in Iraq will remain substantial for some time. Both United Airlines and American Airlines have explored the potential in establishing routes to Baghdad for this reason … it is also why airlines such as United Airlines have continued to fly non-stop to destinations such as Kuwait, now with onward service to Bahrain.
Delta Air Lines has not confirmed that they are the airline the Iraqi Ministry of Transportation was discussing … but given the paper trail left by Northwest Airlines, its not hard to connect the dots.
As Iraq is increasingly connected to its neighbours in the Middle East, as well as trade-partners in Europe, the expansion of service to the United States is logical, and should be competitive once Iraqi Airways launches its service to the U.S. once its new long haul aircraft begin to arrive.
Hopefully the marketing consultants resist the urge to nickname this route the “War Zone to War Zone” service.