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Iran offering discounts to encourage flights through its airspace: 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)
Iran is offering discounts to foreign airlines amid efforts to increase transit income.

Iran has been offering discounts to major international airlines amid efforts by the government to boost transit income by increasing the number of flights through the country’s airspace.

Transportation minister Mohammad Eslami said on Sunday that the government had already approved a plan by Iran Airports and Air Navigation Company (IAC) to cut its overflight fees.

Eslami said the discounts are also meant to neutralize “enemy plots” to discourage international airlines from flying through Iran.

“The enemy is fighting to eliminate our airspace’s share from transit flights. We should fight back hard to protect our share,” he said.

The minister also added that the government has been working with the Iranian armed forces to set up direct flight corridors to further assure foreign airlines about the safety of flying through the Iranian airspace.

The comments came hours after IAC chief Siavosh Amirmokri said that the number of transit flights through Iran had declined by nearly a half compared to 2019 to 400-450 flights per day this year.  

Amirmokri added, however, that flying through the Iranian airspace had improved from lows seen early last year when the spread of the coronavirus caused a major recession in the global aviation industry.

He said that transit flights through Iran would restore to levels seen before the mistaken downing of a Ukrainian airliner in the country in January last year which led to 176 deaths.

The incident, which came amid high military tensions between Iran and the United States, caused major airlines to avoid using the Iranian airspace for a short period.

“We will see an increase in the number of transit flights this year,” said Amirmokri citing forecasts by major international aviation organizations like the IATA and the ICAO.

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