ICCI official says direct Iran-US flight to start in near future

Qom, Oct 29, IRNA – The first direct Iran-US plane flight after the victory of the Iranian Islamic Revolution will take place in near future, a member of Iran Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ICCI) said here Tuesday.

“The preparatory arrangements for the flight have already been made by the Persian Gulf Zomorrod (Emerald) Company and we are waiting for obtaining licenses from the State Aviation Company for the various Iranian airlines to charter the 13-hour flights between Iran and the United States,” said Abolfazl Hejazi.

Speaking at a press conference, Hejazi added, “There are more than four million Iranian citizens living in the United Sates and they are typically economically well off. Beyond doubt, the direct Iran-US flight will bring a high amount of hard currency into the country.”

He proposed that the Iran-US flights would be between Iran’s Persian Gulf Kish Island and New York city, arguing, “Since Kish is a free trade zone (FTZ) there is no need to obtain visas for entering it from the other countries and the Iranians residing in the US, too, can upon arrival in that island apply for visas after visiting the attractions in Kish.”

IRAN-US JOINT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
On proposed plan for establishment of a joint Iran-US chamber of commerce, Hejazi reiterated, “The establishment of that chamber of commerce will provide and appropriate opportunity for establishing commercial ties with the United States.”

He said, “Now that some steps have been taken in the political field we must use the emerged opportunity and provide for the establishment of commercial ties with the US in favor of the country and the political system.”

He said that being benefitted from the invetments of the American, or Iranian-American merchants would by no means be equal to giving concession to the US.

“Using their capitals will be making the best out of the emerged opportunities, because at the Iran-US Chamber of Commerce there are merchants now who have built hotels in Mecca and we can attract their attention that they can make invetments in Qom and in Mashhad and to build residential centers in these cities.”

PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTMENTS
The ICCI official referred to the important role of the private sector in Iranian economy, saying, “Needless of getting involved in political issues, the ICCI supports the establishment of trade ties between Iran and US in the framework of the Islamic system’s policies and those investors who are interested in making investments in Iran in accordance with the Islamic system’s rules and regulations, are quite welcome, and they will be received wholeheartedly.”

He emphasized that the establishment of such a relation will make sense economically, reiterating, “Our objective in establishing this relation is merely exporting Iranian goods to the United States and importing US technology and raw materials that are needed in our industries from there.”

INITIAL STEPS
Days after the historic phone conversation between the US President Barack Obama and Iranˈs President Hassan Rohani, Tehran said it woul study how to restore direct flights to the US for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Rohani has directed a top presidential aide, Akbar Torkan, to pursue the resumption of Iran-US flights, which stopped 34 years ago when Iranian revolutionary students stormed the American embassy in Tehran and took 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days.

Torkan, the caretaker of Iranˈs High Council for Iranian Affairs Abroad, told local news agencies that Rohani had issued the order following his meeting with Iranian expatriates in New York on the sidelines of his visit to the United Nations.

ˈHe has ordered studying the start of direct flights between Iran and the United States in order to obviate the problems facing the Iranian expatriatesˈ visits,ˈ Torkan was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

In New York, Rohani participated in a dinner thrown for Iranians living in the US and pledged to facilitate their travel to Iran. The US, and Los Angeles in particular, is home to hundreds of thousands of Iranian expatriates, many of whom immigrated from Iran soon after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

ˈIt is the natural right of every Iranian to be able to visit his or her homeland,ˈ Rohani told a cheering crowd in New York. ˈIran belongs to all Iranians … No one is allowed to deprive the Iranians from smelling the scent of their homeland.ˈ

Travelers between Iran and the US currently have to change flights in a third country, usually in Europe or the Persian Gulf states. Although personal travel is generally exempted from US sanctions, experts say there are couple of major obstacles before an Iran-US direct flight can resume.

The US treasury has barred Iranian airlines including Iran Air from being allowed to land or operate in the US. Furthermore, extraterritorial US sanctions prevents European airports from providing Iranian carriers with fuel or accepting money from them.

Unlike US flights, Iranian airlines still travel to London directly but are denied re-fuelling. Iran Air has at least three flights a week to London but has to stop in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to refuel each time it returns to Tehran. It can refuel in Ljubljana since the airport there has no direct flight to the US.

Iranians have long complained that sanctions such as those imposed on airlines largely affect ordinary people rather than the Islamic republicˈs government.

Iranians are also cut off from the outside world financially because of banking restriction.

Courtesy: The Guardian, for the background
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