Iran has expressed concern over the impact of a decision last month to stop the only direct flight connecting the country to Malaysia, describing it as a blow to its once vibrant tourism industry as well as to business involving both nations.
Last month, Iranian airline Mahan Air was forced to cease its direct Tehran-Kuala Lumpur flight, which had been in service for more than three decades.
Iran's ambassador to Malaysia, Ali Asghar Mohammadi, said he hoped the issue would be resolved soon.
"I hope that this issue can be resolved soon and that Mahan Air will be able to continue its operations at KLIA with direct flights between both capitals like before, to improve the tourism and trade relationship between Malaysia and Iran in the post-pandemic era," Mohammadi told MalaysiaNow.
The matter was also raised during a recent telephone conversation between Iran's President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi and Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
A report last month said fuelling companies at Malaysian airports had been threatened with punitive measures if they continued fuelling planes from Iran, which has come under sanctions by the US.
The absence of a direct route between Iran and Malaysia is already being felt by thousands of students, expatriates and business operators who relied heavily on Mahan Air’s flight and freight services.
In 2019, Mahan Air carried more than 100,000 passengers between Iran and Malaysia. It had planned to increase its flight frequency in the post-pandemic era in tandem with Tourism Malaysia’s promotional activities and roadshows in Iran in May, to jumpstart the tourism sector.
Last year, Iran was Malaysia's seventh largest trading partner in the Middle East, with total bilateral trade valued at RM2.6 billion – a jump of almost 70% compared to the previous year.