In March 2018, Erbil International Airport reopened to international trafﬁc, ending a six-month blockade imposed by the Baghdad Government in response to the referendum for independence held on September 25, 2017.
Talar Faiq Salih, Director of Erbil International Airport, found herself in a difﬁcult situation as she announced its closure from September 29, 2017. Such challenges are part of running an airport in Iraq and for Salih, having now served nine years as the Director General, it is a familiarscenario.
Born in 1967 in Suliamani, a Kurdistan city in Iraq, Salih studied English translation at the University of Mustansiriyah in Baghdad.
In 1991, she began her career with the United Nations as administration manager overseeing aid and support in Iraq’s refugee zones. She stayed with UN for nearly a decade In Iraq before moving to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Londonwhere she continued herwork forrefugees.
The then London-based humanitarian worker became a representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in the UK.
Salih returned to Kurdistan in 2009 and became the Director of the Erbil International Airport in early 2010 where she is credited for bringing in more airlines, cargo carriers and increasing passenger trafﬁc to the region, thereby, helping spureconomic growth.
During Salih’s tenure as the head of Erbil International Airport, passenger trafﬁc increased from 435,000 in 2010 to 1.6 million in 2017.
Salih is described as tenacious by her colleagues and passionate about the airport and the services it offers both passengers and airlines. Despite the challenges of the international blockade, Salih is determined to deliver on a complex program of development including an ambitious landscaping project, new water treatment facility and a rehabilitation of the fuel farm to increase storage facilities.
For passengers in 2019, Salih is driving through a range of changes to the terminal with new up to date bathrooms, smoking rooms, passenger information and an expansion of shopping and retail.