Korean Flag Carriers Vie for Flights to Tehran

      March 10, 2016 11:57

      Korean Air and Asiana Airlines are jostling for the new route to Tehran now that international sanctions against Iran have been eased.

      Both airlines on Wednesday said they applied for a license to operate four weekly flights from Incheon International Airport to the Iranian capital. Both companies hope to operate passenger and cargo planes.

      The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will award the license to only one operator after a meeting on Friday. Industry insiders project demand for the route at around 65,000 passengers a year.

      "The two airlines believe this new route is a breakthrough opportunity as they struggle to compete against foreign airlines and low cost carriers," one insider said.

      Asiana is desperate for an opportunity to branch out to the Middle East, where it operates no flights so far.

      There is currently no direct passenger flight between Korea and Iran. Iran Air used to fly Tehran-Incheon via Beijing from December 2002 until October 2007, but the service stopped when the U.S. imposed sanctions against Iran.

      Korean Air also ran irregular cargo flights in the 1970s.

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