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EghtesadOnline: The Association of Iranian Airlines has sent a letter to President Hassan Rouhani seeking the termination of airlines’ obligation to sell tickets only up to 60% of planes’ total seating capacity for domestic flights.

According to Fars News Agency, the letter, signed by Younes Daqiqkia, the head of the association, reads as follows:

“The transportation industry has suffered a great deal throughout the coronavirus pandemic due to lockdowns and quarantines. It saw a decline of 43% in the number of passengers for domestic flights and 96% in the number of passengers for international flights during the first six months of the current [fiscal] year (March 20-Sept. 21).  

“The limit set by the Health Ministry for selling tickets at up to 60% of a plane’s total seating capacity has imposed serious economic pressure on airline companies. This is while, thus far, limiting the capacity of flights has not been recommended by the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization or the International Air Transport Association, which constantly monitor the impacts of coronavirus on air travel. 

“Scientific studies by IATA on aircraft cabin air systems and the seat layout inside passenger airliners suggest that the risk of contracting Covid-19 on board a flight is very low.” 

According to IATA, since the beginning of 2020, 1.2 billion passengers have traveled while there have been fewer than 100 documented cases of Covid-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a plane journey (including confirmed, probable and potential cases). 

“That’s one case for every 27 million travelers,” the head of the Association of Iranian Airlines quoted IATA as saying.

Toward the end of the letter, Daqiqkia called on the president to order the lifting of Health Ministry’s restrictions on passenger capacity in place since Oct. 22, 2020, to prevent further losses for the local airlines.

Iran's aviation industry, a sector harshly hit by the spread of the new coronavirus, needs at least three years to make a comeback, says Siavash Amirmokri, managing director of Iran Airports Company.

Air travel and tourism have been the hardest-hit industries in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of thousands of aviation jobs are at risk without more state aid, a global industry body has warned.

The International Air Transport Association downgraded its 2020 traffic forecasts, after "a dismal end to the summer travel season".

The association, which represents 290 airlines, says it expects traffic to be 66% below its 2019 level.

IATA estimates that air traffic will reach pre-pandemic levels by 2024.

The travel industry saw a precipitous drop in business after the coronavirus developed into a pandemic.

Throughout the year, major airlines, airports and tour firms have collectively announced thousands of job losses.

"Absent additional government relief measures and a reopening of borders, hundreds of thousands of airline jobs will disappear," IATA chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac, was quoted as saying by BBC.

He called for Covid-19 tests to be routinely carried out on passengers before flights depart, to increase consumer confidence in air travel and make governments more willing to open borders.

Airlines have already shown signs of struggle in 2020.

Virgin Atlantic recently announced it was cutting 1,150 more jobs, on top of 3,500 jobs it had already cut earlier in the year.

The move, it said, was necessary for its survival, and was part of a £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) rescue plan to secure its future for at least 18 months.

In August, the world's biggest airline American Airlines said it would cut 19,000 jobs in October when a government wage support scheme comes to an end. The jobs being cut make up 30% of its pre-pandemic workforce.

And earlier in the year, United Airlines said as many as 36,000 jobs were at risk. Germany's Lufthansa warned it could cut 22,000 positions and British Airways said it was slashing up to 13,000 jobs.



Iran Airlines Passenger