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Iran to boost airport capacity to 50 mln passengers per year by 2021: Minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows scaffolds on a transit hall being constructed in an airport in the southern Iranian island of Kish.

Iran’s transportation minister Mohammad Eslami says airport capacity in the country will expand to handle 50 million passengers per year by the summer of 2021 despite restrictions imposed on Iran's aviation sector because of the American sanctions.

“Various projects have been introduced for expansion of the aviation fleet which once implemented by the end of the current administrative government the country’s airport capacity would reach up to 50 million passengers per year,” Eslami was quoted by IRIB news on Sunday.

The minister said Iran had managed to increase the number of planes operating in the civil aviation sector despite US sanctions that have hampered the supply of new airliners by global plane manufacturers.

He said Iranian airlines had increased their services on foreign routes to compensate for a decline in the number of flights to and from the country because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Foreign flights are being carried out,” said Eslami, adding. “The surge in the spread of the coronavirus has caused a 50-percent decline in aerial transport including in transit, domestic and international flights.”

US sanctions imposed in the middle of 2018 caused a major halt to Iran’s plans to exponentially increase the capacity in its aviation sector. The country had ordered tens of modern planes from global manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing but only a handful of those planes were delivered to Iran just before the US began to enforce its sanctions.

However, Iran has continued to build out its aviation infrastructure despite the halt to the supply of new planes. President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated a series of airport expansion projects last month, a sign the country would be ready to ramp up services once the pandemic slows to allow a boom in demand for air travel.  

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