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EghtesadOnline: Revenues from air passenger traffic and aircraft flying over Iran’s airspace have decreased by 80% since the coronavirus outbreak, says Siavash Amirmokri, managing director of Iran Airports Company.

Between 750 to 800 flights used to cross Iran's airspace each day before the outbreak of the virus, which figure has declined to 130 at present, according to the official.

Noting that the pandemic has reduced the number of international flights by 50-60% around the world, the official said, “It has also decreased the number of Iran’s domestic flights by 60%.” 

Iranian airports' domestic passenger traffic during the first three quarters of the current fiscal year (March 20-Dec. 20, 2020) declined by 42% year-on-year to 18.3 million, according to the latest report published by Iran Airports Company.

Over 142,496 tons of cargos were handled during the nine months under review, which show a 41% drop compared with the corresponding period of last year.

The IAC report also shows that airports in Iran handled 200,235 landings and takeoffs Q1-3, posting a 25% YOY fall. 

Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport accounted for 6.78 million of the passenger traffic, 39% lower than the same period of last year. 

Mashhad International Airport and Kish International Airport came next with 2.17 million and 1.14 million passengers, respectively. 

Mehrabad handled 72,644 landings and takeoffs during the period, considerably higher than other airports in Iran. 

IAC's datasets do not include figures on Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport, which account for the largest portion of international flights operated to/from Iran. 

As per the numbers, close to 1.72 million passengers were transported domestically during the ninth month of the current fiscal year (Nov. 21-Dec. 20, 2020), indicating a 51% year-on-year drop.

Mehrabad International Airport topped the list of Iranian airports in terms of domestic flights during the one-month period. The airport handled 35% of landings and takeoffs, and accounted for 35.8% and 32.9% of total domestic air passenger traffic and cargo transportation respectively. 

Landings and takeoffs decreased by 20% to 23,710 during the ninth month of the year. Cargo transportation also experienced a 40% decline to 15,398 tons, IAC data show. 

The report also includes data on the cancellation of Iranian airliners' flights. As per the report, 48% of Iranian airliners' planned flights were canceled during the month to Dec. 20. 

Sepehran Airlines topped the list, with its cancellation rate standing at 74% during the month under review. It was followed by Mahan Air, with 67%, Zagros Airlines with 60% Taban Airlines with 59% and ATA Airlines with 57% cancellation. 

Meraj Airlines, Kish Air and Iran Air recorded the best performance in this regard, as their cancellation rate stood at 24%, 25% and 34%, respectively.

“The forecasts of International Air Transport Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization suggest that global passenger traffic isn’t expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2024,” Amirmokri was quoted as saying by IRNA.

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

As the impact of the coronavirus and multiple government travel reactions sweep throughout the world, many airlines have been driven into technical bankruptcy, or are at least substantially in breach of debt covenants.

“Twenty-nine air transportation companies have applied for more than 25.53 trillion rials [$100 million] in loans; 10 of them have received loans worth 17.5 trillion rials [$70 million] so far,” Mohsen Sadeqi, an official with the Ministry of roads and Urban Development, said in December.

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

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

The association, which represents 290 airlines, said it expects traffic to be 66% below the level of 2019.

IATA also estimates that it will be at least 2024 before air traffic reaches pre-pandemic levels.

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.

Virgin Atlantic announced it was cutting 1,150 more jobs, on top of 3,500 jobs it had already cut earlier last 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 2020, 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 airports COVID-19