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Iran seeking ties with neighbors through more flights, says civil aviation official - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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This photograph taken on February 10, 2014 shows Singapore Airlines and EVA AIr parked at the Changi International Airport in Singapore (AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN)

This photograph taken on February 10, 2014 shows Singapore Airlines and EVA AIr parked at the Changi International Airport in Singapore (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iran is pushing to increase the number of flights from its territory to neighboring countries, particularly those from the Gulf, in an attempt to strengthen its regional political, economic and cultural ties, according to a senior official from Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization (CAO).

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Deputy Director of the CAO Mohamed Karami, said: “Iran has been trying to increase the number of flights to Gulf countries in recent years . . . [and] is keen to strengthen cooperation in aviation with Gulf countries through legal channels and technical methods. We are trying to remove the obstacles created by international sanctions.”

Last Thursday Iran and Oman signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Muscat to increase the number of flights between the two countries.

Commenting on the agreement, Karami said: “Currently, the number of flights between the two countries is 14 every week, but this will rise to 30 once the agreement is implemented and the destinations for the flights have been confirmed. Iran and Oman are strengthening their cooperation in technical training and education to increase the number of flights between the countries.”

The MOU between the two countries was signed by Mohamed Bin Nasser Ali Al-Zaabi, chief executive of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Meteorology in Oman, and Ali Reza Jahangiri, head of the CAO and Iran’s deputy minister for roads and urban development.

Al-Zaabi said the agreement “opens the skies to an unrestricted number of cargo flights.”

The new flights will also transport passengers between Muscat and Mashhad, Esfahan and Shiraz.

Aviation experts from both countries have already exchanged visits and a number of Iranian experts were welcomed at training and advisory sessions held in Oman.

The first direct flight between Tehran and Muscat took off in September 2012.

International sanctions and strained relations between Iran and its neighbors have resulted in an underdeveloped aviation sector in the Islamic Republic in recent years.

US and EU sanctions against Iran included a ban on selling aircraft and repair parts to the country, leaving Iranian airlines with ageing and underdeveloped fleets and leading to a reduction in the number of direct flights between Iran and other countries.

National carrier Iran Air’s fortunes have dwindled in recent years, seeing it lose the prestige it enjoyed in the 1970s and fall behind regional competitors such as Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air.

However, the nuclear interim agreement Iran signed with the P5+1—the five permanent members of the security council plus Germany—allows for the resumption in the supplies of spare parts and services to Iran’s civil aviation sector.

In February, Gulf Air announced it had resumed flights to Iran, with routes to Mashhad active since last December, and flights to Tehran and Shiraz resuming March 3.