Press TV – Iranian airlines have canceled nearly 90 percent of their flights planned for a holiday season after the novel coronavirus pandemic caused many travelers to stay at home.
An aviation official said on Saturday that three Iranian airlines had completely grounded their planes during the peak travel season of Norouz which marks the beginning of the new Iranian calendar year.
Maghsoud Assadi Samani, who heads the Association of Iranian Airlines (AIA), said that growing restrictions on flights and extremely low demands for air travel as a result of the coronavirus pandemic had caused a major recession in the Iranian aviation sector.
Samani said that airlines had incurred a loss of around 30 trillion rials (nearly $190 million) because of flight cancellations at Norouz holidays.
He urged the government to help the sector as one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, adding that continued cuts to the number of flights may take its toll on jobs across the industry.
“If the situation continues like this, airlines would have no option but to lay off workers,” said the AIA secretary while calling on the government to provide the airlines and other companies across the sector with grants or cheap loans to save them from recession.
Samani said a large number of planes had been moved to parking places where Iran’s civil aviation authority charges large fees for storage.
He said cancelling the parking charges which amount to large sums for supersize aircraft could be a major help to airlines hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 35,000 people have been tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19, since the infection was spotted in Iran more than a month ago.
Iranian health ministry said on Saturday that nearly 12,000 patients had recovered while more than 2,500 had died from the illness.