EghtesadOnline: Hajj return flights from Saudi Arabia to Iran concluded on Monday, as the last flight returning Iranian hajj pilgrims from Medina, operated by Iran's flag carrier Iran Air, landed at Imam Khomeini International Airport at 1:31 a.m. local time, Iran's Civil Aviation Organization’s spokesperson announced.
According to Reza Jafarzadeh, hajj flights from 19 provinces in Iran to the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Medina began on July 8, transporting more than 88,600 Iranian pilgrims. Taking all the flights to Saudi Arabia as well as return ones into account, more than 700 flights were operated during the period.
The flights were delayed by around 19 minutes on average, he told Mehr News Agency.
“IKIA’s newly inaugurated Salaam Terminal had a 26% share in the transportation of Iranian hajj pilgrims,” Financial Tribune quoted Jafarzadeh as saying.
Salaam Terminal was officially inaugurated in June by 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.
Hajj return flights started on Aug. 16 after Iran-Saudi Arabia flights began on July 8. A total of 88,561 hajj pilgrims were transported to Saudi Arabia by 360 flights in the course of 30 days.
The number of pilgrims and flights, according to Iran Air CEO Touraj Dehqani Zanganeh, witnessed a 98% and 97% growth respectively this year compared with last year (March 2018-19).
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.