Dubai/Baghdad: Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and Dubai`s Emirates Airline said on Tuesday they would suspend flights to Baghdad until further notice after small arms fire hit a passenger plane at the Iraqi capital`s airport.
Iraqi security authorities, however, said the attack on the aircraft of the United Arab Emirates`s (UAE) FlyDubai budget airliner was unintentional.
According to a report by UAE daily Emirates 24/7, FlyDubai has not confirmed earlier reports by Iraqi media that three passengers were wounded in the incident.
The shooting at Baghdad airport targeted the aircraft of the Emirates subsidiary Monday night, lightly damaging the fuselage.
Xinhua news agency, citing a source at Baghdad airport, reported earlier Tuesday that the FlyDubai plane was hit by small arms fire while landing at Baghdad airport.
Traces of small arms fire impact could be seen on the Boeing 737 aircraft.
Dubai daily Gulf News reported that the plane was shot at while landing. Iraqi media said the shots were fired from a point close to the runway at Baghdad international airport.
In Baghdad, the Iraqi security authorities on Tuesday said the attack on the plane was unintentional and stressed that Baghdad airport is fully secured.
The spokesman for Baghdad Operations Command, Saad Maan, said that "the incident, which involved one of FlyDubai planes was casual".
"This incident would not affect the flights, as Baghdad airport is 100 percent secured," Xinhua news agency quoted Maan as saying.
"Up to 72 flights used the same flying route and same altitudes before the incident of FlyDubai, and some seven flights after it without any incident," Maan pointed out, in an attempt to prove that the FlyDubai plane was not meant to be targeted by the small arms fire.
An investigation has been launched into the incident and the results would be announced later, while more security measures have been taken to ensure safety for the passengers and the planes, Maan added.
The plane was hit while landing at Baghdad airport by small arms fire from the al-Radhwaniya area.
Baghdad International Airport is surrounded by a vast and heavily guarded security perimeter and is blocked with concrete blast walls, making it difficult for insurgent groups to fire on the landing and departing planes.
Meanwhile, Dubai`s state-owned Emirates Airline has asked passengers who had previously booked flights from Dubai to Baghdad on its website to contact the airline, as flights had been suspended due to operational reasons.
In recent years, UAE airlines have suspended direct flights to Iraq several times due to violent incidents in the capital of Iraq.