Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi, said in a statement that the carrier would use its growing fleet of ATR72-600s to start shorthaul flights from Iran’s border provinces to neighbouring countries.
At present, the bulk of Iran Air’s international connectivity is channeled through its Tehran Imam Khomeini hub. Airports at Ahwaz, Bandar Abbas, Isfahan Int’l, Lar, Mashad, and Shiraz play a lesser role with flights primarily to Kuwait, Dubai Int’l, and Beirut. Service is primarily undertaken by Iran Air’s fleet of A320 Family of aircraft.
In terms of the twenty ATR72-600s it has on order from Avions de Transport Régional, Iran Air currently operates four with a further two due this month. Since their debut earlier this year, the carrier has used the aircraft to develop thinner domestic routes.
However, some of the international services being touted for the ATR72 include Rasht-Baku, Azerbaijan, which Karim Aghai, the Iranian airport’s Director General, has said has strong potential given Rasht’s status as the largest city on Iran’s Caspian Sea coast. Though five Iranian carriers currently serve the port, none connect it with any foreign destinations abroad, he said.
Other border provinces which could benefit from the ATR’s specialized capacity include Kurdistan (bordering Iraq and Turkey) and Fars Province in the south.