Antep-Arbil links to be strengthened
GAZIANTEP – Hürriyet Daily NewsThe already strong ties between the southeastern province of Gaziantep and northern Iraq are set to be reinforced with the launch of direct flights and a planned representation office.
Gaziantep has been at the heart of the Ankara-Arbil axis as it has accounted for large part of the trade between the two parties. While the goods sent to Iraq have made up Gaziantep’s exports in 2012, around one fifth of Turkey’s overall exports to the country were sent from Gaziantep, according to Turkish Exporters council data.
Now, both Iraqi airways and Turkish private air carrier Atlasjet have moved to make the 720-kilometer distance between Gaziantep and Arbil even smaller.
Iraq’s national flag carrier began its direct flights yesterday, opening up its third route to Turkey from the Kurdish city, in addition to Istanbul and recently launched Ankara flights.
Atlasjet also announced its plans to launch Gaziantep-Arbil flights on Oct. 10, being the first local actor of the route.
“We [Gaziantep exporters] had to use land road [which takes 10 hours] while going to Arbil and had to wait at the border around five or six hours. Now, we will fly there in one hour and 15 minutes,” Eyüp Bartık, the chairman of the Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce, told the Hürriyet Daily News.
In addition to two new flights, Bartık’s chamber plans to open a representation office in Arbil where the Gaziantep exporters will consult with their counterparts, a move expected to reinforce the trade relations further.
Bartık said they were currently working on the scheme of this office, but they had high hopes for it.
The office will provide consultancy regarding the bureaucracy of the still-developing KRG institutions for the Gaziantep exporters, even maybe other Turkish exporters.
It may even provide a platform to meet parties that could conduct business together, the chamber said.