Tajikistan has suspended flights to the Islamic Republic of Iran amid fears about a coronavirus outbreak in IRI. 

“We have ordered Iranian Varesh Airlines and Tajik national air carrier suspends flights between Tajikistan and Iran starting from February 24 until the coronavirus situation stabilizes in Iran,” Aziz Nabizoda, the deputy director of the Civil Aviation Agency under the Government of Tajikistan, told Asia-Plus in an interview Monday afternoon. 

According to him, many countries, including Iraq, Kuwait, Armenia, Azerbaijan and some others, have suspended flight service to Iran as a protective measure against the coronavirus outbreak.  

Recall, Iranian air company, Varesh Airlines, began operating flights from Tehran to Dushanbe and the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek in early February.  Varesh Airlines’ flights on this air route were operated once a week – on Mondays. 

Tajik Air resumed its roundtrip flights from Tajikistan to Iran in August last year. Dushanbe – Mashhad – Dushanbe flights were operated twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.  However, Tajik national air carrier later stopped its flights.

Tajikistan – Iran flights were previously resumed in early June 2019 after an almost annual suspension.  On June 6, Varesh Airlines, Iran, made its first flight en route Mashhad – Dushanbe – Mashhad.  Varesh Airlines’ flights on this air route were operated once a week – on Thursdays.

Mashhad – Dushanbe – Mashhad regular flights were previously carried out by Aseman Airlines, Iran. These flights were stopped at the end of September 2018 at the initiative of the Iranian side due to low profitability and low volatility in the foreign exchange market.  From the Tajik side, flights to Iran were operated by Tajik Air, which also stopped its flights in January last year due to financial problems.

According to Nabizoda, Tajik Air has also been notified of suspension of flights between Tajikistan and Iran because it has permission to operate flights from Dushanbe to Tehran.   

Meanwhile, media reports say that Iran on Sunday confirmed 15 new cases of the new coronavirus, taking the total to 43 with a death toll of eight.  It is the highest death toll outside of China.  Most of the infections have reportedly been in the Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Qom.