Iraqi Airways kept flying during the 1980s to most cities where it had established routes to. The Iran-Iraq War did little to undermine the airline's activities. Since Iraq's invasion in 1991 of Kuwait, Iraqi Airways was grounded by the United Nations' sanctions against Iraq. Before the invasion started, Iraqi Airways had 17 jets, all of which were moved to secret locations, mainly in Jordan.
Because Iraqi Airways was allowed to fly domestically, it continued service to smaller cities, such as Basra. These restarted in January 1992 from Baghdad to Basra using Antonov An-24 aircraft. However, domestic flights became a rarity too, because of the No-Fly Zone imposed by the United States and United Kingdom over Iraqi skies. On occasions, Iraqi Airways would also fly pilgrims to Muslim religious cities during the '90s.