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Iran appoints new civil aviation chief as COVID curbs are lifted

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)
Iranian government appoints a new civil aviation chief as COVID-19 restrictions on flights are lifted.

The Iranian government has appointed a new chief for the country’s civil aviation authority as it drops social distancing rules required in flights because of the coronavirus.

The official IRIB News agency said in a Sunday report that Mohammad Mohammadi Bakhsh had been approved by the Iranian Cabinet as the new head of the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAO).

Mohammadi Bakhsh has led Pouya Air, a domestic cargo airline and other aviation companies over the past years. He replaces Siavosh Amir Mokri who had been in the post since March 2019.

The appointment comes as CAO, a subsidiary of the Iranian transportation ministry, plans to increase its support for airlines as they struggle to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

It also comes just a day after Europe’s main aviation regulator EASA withdrew a warning notice issued in January 2020 that had urged airlines to avoid the Iranian airspace.

Iranian airline companies have reported a boost to demand for flights on their domestic and international routes since mid-summer when the Iranian government ramped up its coronavirus vaccination campaign.

The Iranian health ministry announced on Sunday that it had lifted a cap imposed in April last year that limited the number of passengers allowed in a flight to 60% of the plane’s seat capacity.

However, the health ministry said that airlines would still be required to only board passengers who submit valid PCR test results.

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