News ID: 264398
Published: 0425 GMT January 15, 2020

Qatar Airways to keep flying to Iran: CEO

Qatar Airways to keep flying to Iran: CEO

Qatar Airways will continue to fly to Iran and has not lost any bookings during a recent spike in Middle East tensions, Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said on Wednesday.

A number of flights to Tehran were canceled last week after the crash of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran, which Tehran later admitted it had shot down by mistake, Reuters reported.

Many airlines use Iranian airspace, including Qatar Airways which is banned from flying over some neighboring Persian Gulf Arab states.

Meanwhile, deputy head of Iran-Qatar Joint Chamber of Commerce said on Wednesday that having an active direct shipping line between the two countries is a necessity for the expansion of trade ties between them.

“The boom in trade between Iran and Qatar, particularly in the areas of export and tourism, is in dire need of activation of the Bushehr-Qatar route,” Khorshid Gazderazi told IRNA.

In August 2019, Iran’s southern port of Bushehr launched a cargo and passenger shipping line with Qatar using a cargo/passenger ship called Grand Ferry, however, according to Gazderazi, the line hasn’t been much active due to the lack of support from the two sides.

According to the official, the shipping line was scheduled to operate once a week carrying both passengers and cargoes, but it couldn’t operate upon that schedule due to the heavy fuel costs.

“Considering the fact that the Qatar World Cup is ahead, the mentioned ship with its 2,000-passenger capacity should be active in the tourism sector from now on,” Gazderazi said.

Since 2017, when Qatar was sanctioned by countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, Iran has had a great opportunity for a stronger presence in the country’s market, according to the official.

“Over time, however, issues pertaining to quality and quantity of products, have affected Iran's position among the rival exporters to Qatar and the Iranian Chamber of Commerce should pay special attention to this issue,” he added.

Iran has recently established or reactivated a number of sea travel routes, which is expected to lend a hand to the tourism sector that has fallen victim to a foreign currency crisis caused by sanctions.

As unilateral US sanctions against Iran snapped back, pressuring the country’s limited foreign currency reserves, the Islamic Republic is increasingly paying attention to marine travel as a major way of boosting its underdeveloped tourism sector.

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