EghtesadOnline: The first group of Iranian hajj pilgrims returned home on Friday, leaving Medina in Saudi Arabia for Sari International Airport located in Sari, the capital of Iran's northern Mazandaran Province.
A total of 12 flights operated on the first day to bring back Iranian pilgrims to the provinces of Mazandaran, Yazd and Zanjan, Iranian flag carrier Iran Air reported on its website.
Return flights from Saudi Arabia to Iran will continue until Sept. 8. During this 23-day period, more than 88,000 hajj pilgrims will return from the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Medina to 19 provinces in Iran.
Detailed information of hajj return flights are available at Haj.iranair.com, according to Financial Tribune.
A total of 361 flights will be operated to return Iranian hajj pilgrims home. From the total number of return flights, 176 will be from Jeddah and the remaining 185 from Medina.
Hajj flights from Iran to Saudi Arabia concluded on Aug. 6. Starting July 8, a total of 88,561 hajj pilgrims were transported to Saudi Arabia by 360 flights in the course of 30 days.
According to Iran Air Touraj Dehqani Zanganeh, the cities of Jeddah and Medina had a 43% (153 flights) and 57% (207 flights) share from hajj flights from Iran respectively.
Notably, the number of pilgrims and the number of flights witnessed a 98% and 97% growth respectively compared with those of last year (March 2018-19), he added.
Average flight delay witnessed a noticeable year-on-year decrease of 74% to 19 minutes.
Nine aircrafts, 61 pilots, 26 co-pilots, 13 flight engineers, 80 pursers and 300 flight attendants took part in hajj flight operations.
A total of 1,594 tons of cargo were transported from Iran to Saudi Arabia, along with passengers.
Since Iran Air solely focused on hajj flights during the period, the flag carrier’s European passengers were handled by the airlines of Mahan, Qeshm Air, Aseman and AtlasGlobal.
Unlike previous years, Iran Air operated 100% of hajj flights to Saudi Arabia this year with its own fleet of airplanes.
As per a decade-old agreement between Tehran and Riyadh, Iranian and Saudi airlines each operated half of the hajj flights every year. However, Saudi Arabia announced this hajj season that it won't operate hajj flights for Iranians and Iran Air is obliged to fly its own aircraft and not those it has on lease or rented to Jeddah and Medina.
Imam Khomeini International Airport's newly-inaugurated Salaam Terminal hosted hajj pilgrim flights in Tehran.
Salaam Terminal was officially inaugurated on June in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani. The new terminal, with a capacity of transporting five million passengers per year, has increased IKIA's capacity by 80%.
Other Iranian airports conducting Hajj flights this year included those in the cities of Urmia, Isfahan, Ahvaz, Bandar Abbas, Bushehr, Birjand, Tabriz, Rasht, Zahedan, Zanjan, Sari, Shiraz, Kerman, Kermanshah, Gorgan, Mashhad, Hamedan and Yazd.
First Domestic Flight Launched at IKIA
Imam Khomeini International Airport launched its first-ever domestic flight on Thursday morning, leaving Tehran for Kish Island at 9:45 a.m. local time.
Operated at IKIA's Terminal 1, Kish Air launched the flight using Airbus A320 aircraft, the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development reported on its news service Newsmrud.ir.
Deputy Minister and Chairman of Roads Maintenance and Transport Organization Shahram Adamnejad, managing director of Kish Airlines Farzaneh Sharafbafi and a group of employees from Kish Airlines and Kish Free Zone Organization were on board the flight.
The operation of domestic flights through IKIA’s Terminal 1 followed the inauguration of the airport’s new Salaam Terminal. The new terminal has taken on part of Terminal 1's international traffic, making room for launch of domestic flights.
IKIA’s Salaam Terminal was officially inaugurated in June in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani, Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami and other officials. The new terminal, with a capacity of transporting five million passengers per year, has increased IKIA's overall capacity by 80%, IRNA reported.
Terminal 1 is expected to handle domestic flights between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., when Mehrabad is barred from operating flights.
In the fiscal 2017-18, IKIA hosted over nine million passengers.
Imam Khomeini Airport Company will soon transfer international flights operated by six airlines from Terminal 1 to Salaam, IKAC official Hassan Khoshkhou said recently.
Hassan Khoshkhou, an IKAC official, explained that the reason behind the transfer is to make room and prepare IKIA’s Terminal 1 for operating domestic flights.
Airlines, whose international operations will be transferred to Salaam Terminal, include Azerbaijan Airlines and SalamAir as of Aug. 8, Iraqi Airways as of Aug. 12, Bravo Airways as of Aug. 16, Aseman Airlines as of Aug. 22 and Armenia Airways as of Aug. 28.
IKIA authorities have placed the construction of a third terminal at the airport on the agenda. Iranshahr Terminal’s first phase is expected to be completed in the next five years with a capacity of transporting 25 million passengers per year. The final phase has been planned for transporting 110 million passengers annually.
Imam Khomeini International Airport registered 47,446 takeoffs and landings in the last Iranian fiscal year that ended on March 20, 2019, to register a 19% decline.
More than 7.27 million passengers and around 141,704 tons of cargos were transported from the airport during the period to be ranked third on the list of Iran’s busiest airports. The figures show a 19% and 14% decline YOY.
IKIA has the biggest share of international flights operated in Iran.
Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport has been distinguished as the third fastest-growing major airport in the world.
A study by Routes Online shows the airport grew in terms of passenger numbers by 48.6% during the first half of 2018 to 3.93 million, helped by Ata Airlines, following the rise in frequencies to Istanbul Ataturk.
Operated by Iran Airports Company, IKIA is located 30 kilometers southwest of Iran's capital city Tehran.