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Iran Suffers Huge Reduction Of Revenues From Overflight Rights

Map showing flight routes diverted from Iranian airspace to neighboring countries.

Iran Airports Company (IAC) has reported an 85 percent reduction in overflights by airlines using Iran's airspace in March-April compared with the previous year.

According to Tasnim News Agency, IAC has reported that in the period between March 21 to April 20 the number of international flights passing over Iran has dropped from 33,189 in the previous year to 5,162.

Ahsan Alavi, a lawmaker, on May 11 said the number of daily flights passing through the Iranian airspace had dropped from 900 to 200 and caused a significant drop in Iran's revenues from overflight rights.

The fall in the number of international flights has been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic that has had a significant impact on the international aviation industry due to the travel restrictions imposed by various countries as well as the unwillingness of many to travel at a time of crisis.

However, in the case of Iran other factors such as the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane by Iran's Revolutionary Guard over Tehran on January 8 have made things worse.

Following the incident, the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) quoted an aviation expert as saying that before the tragedy that cost the lives of 176 passengers and crew members onboard the jet, Iran earned a minimum of $800 from each of about 1000 daily overflights amounting to around $250 million dollars a year.

International airlines diverted their flights to the airspace of neighboring countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia following the incident despite higher overflight costs, the report said.

The pandemic has also grounded many domestic flights. According to the IAC report quoted by Tasnim some flights by airlines such as Zagros and Pouya Air dropped to one and four respectively in the first month of the new Iranian year.

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.