EghtesadOnline: Iran Air operated 724 hajj flights in the current Iranian year (March 2019-20) to register a 97% rise compared to last year (ended March 20, 2019), according to the CEO of Iran’s flag carrier.
“Iran Air transported more than 90,000 hajj pilgrims this year, indicating a 98% rise compared with last year,” Touraj Dehqan Zanganeh told Fars News Agency.
The average delay for hajj flights this year stood at 9 minutes, he added.
Hajj flights from 19 Iranian provinces to the Saudi Arabian cities of Jeddah and Medina began on July 8, 2019. Return flights from Saudi Arabia to Iran started on Aug. 16 and concluded on Sept. 9, as the last flight returning Iranian hajj pilgrims from Medina landed at Imam Khomeini International Airport at 1:31 a.m. local time, according to Financial Tribune.
Unlike previous years, Iran Air operated all the 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.
According to Iran's Civil Aviation Organization Apokesman Reza Jafarzadeh, Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport's Salaam Terminal handled about a quarter of Iranian hajj pilgrims this year.
Salaam Terminal was officially inaugurated in 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%.
KIA authorities have placed the construction of a third terminal at the airport on their 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.
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.