Air India to Restart Flights After 2-Decade Hiatus
State-run Air India Ltd. plans to restart flights to Iran suspended nearly two decades ago because of turmoil in the Middle East and western-backed sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
According to India’s daily business newspaper Mint, the all-economy flights to be launched under its low-cost brand Air India Express will connect Delhi with Tehran three times a week, an airline official said.
The flights are expected to resume in April “or a little before that”, said Air India Express chief K. Shyam Sundar.
“Last flight was in 1990s when Air India used to fly Bombay-Tehran but then perhaps because of turmoil in the region, we discontinued,” Sundar said. “Then there were issues with EXIM Bank. Once the sanctions were removed, it became easier. Now obstacles are gone.”
Almost all of Air India’s international fleet, including Air India Express Boeing 737 planes, have been funded with US EXIM Bank loans.
Iran emerged from years of economic sanctions in January when world powers lifted sanctions against the country in return for Tehran to limit its nuclear activities.
Air India, which has informed the US EXIM Bank about its plans to resume flights to Iran, already has an office in Tehran and is in the process of obtaining clearances from Iran.