8 years on, suspension of Iran-Saudi Arabia flights to continue

Iranian culture minister Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili said that the problem was related to a “technical dispute” between the aviation authorities of the two countries, describing it as “not a serious matter”

Tehran: Iran’s national flag carrier, Iran Air, has suspended plans to resume flights to Saudi Arabia after an eight-year hiatus.

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The flights intended to transport Umrah pilgrims from Tehran, Mashhad and Isfahan to Jeddah, were scheduled for Wednesday, January 3.

However, the flights were suspended due to Saudi authorities’ failure to issue the necessary permits, according to Iran Air spokesman Hesam Ghorbanali, cited by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

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Iranian culture minister Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili said that the problem was related to a “technical dispute” between the aviation authorities of the two countries, describing it as “not a serious matter.”

Since 2015, around six million Iranians have been eagerly awaiting the resumption of Umrah due to disagreements between Tehran and Riyadh.

On December 13, 2023, Iranian Haj and Visitation Organization’s Abbas Hosseini announced the resumption of flights to Saudi Arabia, with each convoy containing 90-167 Iranian pilgrims, continuing until February 29, 2024.

On April 6, 2023, in Beijing, the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia signed a joint statement to begin arrangements to reopen embassies and consulates, expand bilateral relations and cooperation, and resume flights.

The move comes in accordance with a China-brokered deal signed by Iran and Saudi Arabia in Beijing on March 10, 2023.

Riyadh severed diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016 after its representative offices were stormed during demonstrations protesting the execution of a Shiite religious leader by the Sunni-majority Kingdom.

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