Iran says overflights up, cites Iraq, Ukraine worries

Iran recorded 1,015 overflights on Sunday against 559 a year ago

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The number of commercial aircraft using Iranian airspace appears to have doubled in the last year, mostly because of insecurity in Iraq and Ukraine, figures showed Wednesday.

International airlines including Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Delta and United suspended flights over Iraq in July prompting an immediate rise in traffic.

A newly released one-day snapshot suggests that a previous upward trend has increased.

“We recorded 1,015 overflights on Sunday against 559 a year ago,” Ebrahim Shoushtari, deputy director for operations at Iran Airports Company (IAC), was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

The number of overflights was also 32 percent higher in the six months to October 2014, compared with the same period a year ago.

The demand is a welcome source of foreign exchange revenues for sanctions-hit Iran -- the payments are sanctions exempt, according to US Treasury regulations.

Iran, which charges between $50 and $2,000 per overflight depending on the weight of the plane, has created new routes to handle the increased traffic, Shoushtari said.

“After requests from airlines to use Iranian airspace because of the events in Iraq and Ukraine, we created five new air corridors. We now have 96 corridors,” he added.

No data was released on how many overflights were civilian airliners and how many were cargo transport.

Figures in August showed overflights up a quarter following a surge by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadists, and after Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down above rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

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