Birmingham International Airport is welcoming flights on its latest new route – to Iraq.

The new service at the airport, which will go via Stockholm in Sweden, is aimed at the Iraqi community in the Midlands, and will fly to the northern, Kurdish part of the country.

The weekly route will alternate between flights to the cities of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah in the troubled country. It is only route from Birmingham airport to Iraq, and Swedish travel operators Aer Olympic said they thought people in the Midlands would appreciate the opportunity to be able to travel there from a local airport.

Flights leave Birmingham every Tuesday at 8.15am.

Akes Kefalas, the chief executive of Aer Olympic, said: “Aer Olympic has been expanding in the UK for the last 12 months and the launch of these routes from Birmingham is an important step for us. The diverse ethnic communities of the Midlands will now have a direct link to northern Iraq and the feedback we have already received has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Those who have family and friends in Erbil or Sulaymaniyah can now fly from their local airport and we are looking forward to hopefully growing our business from Birmingham in 2010.”

Paul Kehoe, the chief executive of Birmingham Airport, added: “At a time when the aviation industry is facing the toughest trading conditions in living memory, we are delighted to be welcoming this new service to Birmingham.

The route will offer a direct link to Kurdistan for the first time and means that those living in the Midlands can access this service from their local airport. We wish the service every success and it’s particularly promising to see such encouraging loads on the first flights.”