Iraqi Airways is to operate the first direct service between the UK and Baghdad for 23 years from next month.

Two flights a week from Gatwick will serve the Iraqi capital and one will go to the city of Sulaimaniya.

The frequency will increase to six flights a week by June 15.

All return flights will stop in Malmo in Sweden for an hour for “security reasons” before entering the UK, the airline said.

Iraqi Airways added that the routes have already been granted permission by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and travel agency IKB Travel and Tours has been appointed as GSA for the carrier in the UK.