EghtesadOnline: Direct flights between Iran's renowned tourist destination city of Isfahan and Oman's capital Muscat have been launched, Director General of Isfahan Province Airports Company Hassan Amjadi has announced.
A maiden flight, operated by Taban Air, flew to Muscat on Saturday from Isfahan International Airport.
The flights have been scheduled to operate one weekly flight on Saturdays using McDonnell Douglas MD-88 aircraft with a passenger capacity of 160, according to Financial Tribune.
The plane leaves Isfahan at 8 a.m. local time for Muscat and then lands at Isfahan Int’l Airport from the Omani capital at 5 p.m. the same day, the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development's news service (News.mrud.ir) reported.
According to Amjadi, Isfahan Int’l Airport currently operates flights to Istanbul, Dubai, Doha, Najaf, Kuwait, Baghdad and Muscat.
Another route between Muscat and Lar, the capital of Larestan County, Fars Province, is expected to be launched in two weeks, according to Iran’s former commercial attaché to Oman, Abbas Abdolkhani.
This flight, too, will be operated by Taban Air.
Abdolkhani believes the increasing number of flights between Iran and Oman will help develop business relations and health tourism between Iran and Oman, which are long-standing economic and political allies in the region, the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran reported on its website.
Oman is a major source of medical tourism for Iran. It has now gained a noticeable share in Iran’s tourism market by overtaking Europe in the number of visitors, as about 30,000 Omani tourists travelled to Iran last year (March 2018-19). The total number of tourists from Europe to Iran stood at 26,000 during the year.
The number of Omani tourists in Iran exponentially increased this year (started March 21), as close to 50,000 of them visited the Islamic Republic during the first half of the current Iranian year (March 21-Sept. 22).
According to Cultural Heritage Minister Ali Asghar Mounesan, the number of incoming Omani visitors to Iran in H1 shows a 362% year-on-year rise. He attributes the staggering rise to Iran's abolition of visa requirements for Omanis.
Abdolkhani added that flights between Sohar—a port city on Oman’s north coast—and Ahvaz, the capital of Iran's Khuzestan Province, will be launched by Qeshm Air in the Iranian month ending Feb. 20.
“With Iranians traveling more and more to Oman for doing business and with Omanis increasing visits to Iran for health tourism on the other hand, the number of travels between the two countries is rising,” he said.
Currently, Oman Air, Salam Air, Kish Air, Qeshm Air and Aseman Airlines are operating flights from Muscat to Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz, Kish and Chabahar.
Iranian citizens are granted 10- and 30-day visas at Muscat International Airport within minutes, which are extendable.
Direct flights between Mashhad and Muscat were launched earlier last year.
The flights are operated by Qeshm Air to and from Mashhad's Shahid Hasheminejad International Airport every Thursday.
According to Director of Khorasan Razavi Airports Company Mohammad Baqer Qasemzadeh, the flight from Muscat to Mashhad is scheduled at 1 p.m. while return flights are conducted at 2:45 p.m., the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development's news service reported.
Hasheminejad International Airport currently operates international flights to 14 destinations, namely Istanbul, Kuwait, Muscat, Doha, Dubai, Sharjah, Baghdad, Nasiriyah, Basra, Najaf, Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat and Kandahar.
Qeshm Airlines was founded in 1993 and currently operates passenger services between Qeshm and other Iranian cities, including Tehran, as well as other countries, including Belgium and Germany.
Qeshm Air started direct flights between Qeshm Island—off the southern coast of Iran—and Muscat on Feb. 5.
The Iranian airline operates two flights a week on Mondays and Thursdays using RJ and Fokker 100 airliners on Qeshm-Muscat route.
Salam Air, Oman's first budget airline, launched its first flight to the Iranian capital Tehran from Muscat earlier this month.
Flights to Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport are scheduled for three times a week using A320neo passenger aircraft.
This is the second destination offered by the airline into the country after Shiraz in southern Iran, operating three flights on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to Oman Daily Observer.
SalamAir is a low-cost airline from Oman headquartered and based at Muscat International Airport. It operates flights to regional destinations.
The airline is also reportedly planning to fly to Mashhad as of September 2019.
Expansion of Marine Transport
Addressing a gathering of 120 Iranian and Omani businesspersons in Muscat in April, the Iranian Ambassador in Muscat Mohammad Reza Nouri-Shahroudi said the expansion of marine transportation between the two countries also follows a plan to boost bilateral economic interactions.
Iran and Oman are set to add a new direct shipping route between their ports in the Persian Gulf to help boost economic interactions between the two countries.
Iran and Oman traded $1.16 billion worth of goods in the last Iranian year that ended on March 20. The trade volume saw the second highest growth (51.16%) among Iran's 15 neighboring countries.
Of the total volume, Iran's share stood at $728 million.
“Expansion of marine transportation between the two countries, facilitation of visa procedures and an increase in Iranian companies established in Oman are among the main reasons for increasing bilateral trade,” Abdolkhani was recently quoted as saying.
Oman issues visas on arrival for Iranians at the Muscat International Airport at 20 Omani rials (about $52). These visas are valid for stays of up to one month. Iranians can also apply for single-entry visa at Oman’s Embassy in Tehran for 6 Omani rials ($15.58).
Iran does not stamp the passports of Omani businesspeople and tourists to ensure travelers to Iran are not be barred from entering the United States.
The shipping route mentioned above will be the fifth direct shipping line between the two countries, after Jask-Suwaiq, Bandar Abbas-Sohar, Khorramshahr-Sohar and Bandar Abbas-Al Suwaiq routes.
The fourth direct marine route was established in December 2018 between Iran’s Jask Port and Oman’s Al Suwaiq Port to transport wholesale Iranian commodities to Oman using containers.
Another important direct shipping line between Oman’s Sohar Port and Iran’s Bandar Abbas Port on the shores of the Strait of Hormuz also resumed activity in December last year, after commercial vessels along this marine route had halted operations from early November after the new round of US sanctions against Iran came into effect.