Iran Official Says Direct Flights To U.S. To Begin Soon

ICCI Official Says Direct Iran-US Flight to Start in Near Future

Code: 80881152 (3618512)  | Date: 30/10/2013 |  Time: 00:37

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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 investments 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 investments 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 Iran’s President  Hassan Rohani, Tehran said it would 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  Iran’s 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.

“He has ordered studying  the start of direct flights between Iran and the United States in order to  obviate the problems facing the Iranian expatriates’ visits,” 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.

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

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 republic’s  government.

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

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