Minister of Roads and Transportation Ahmad Khorram said in Tehran on Monday that Iran has purchased 36 passenger planes to raise number of its overseas and domestic flights, IRNA reported.
Taking to reporters after meeting his Turkish and Iraqi counterparts, Khorram said eight of the planes have joined national air fleet, while credit has been opened for the rest.
He said 20 to 30 more passenger planes are going to be purchased to promote national air transportation capacity.
He said once the planes join national air transportation grid, weekly flights provincial wide will rise to seven a week from two.
The official said the growth rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) now stands at seven percent and any rise in national financial muscle is expected to promote the purchasing power of the public, motivating more people to use planes for transportation. This, he added, will make continued operation of the airports economical.
Currently nine million passengers travel between their destinations annually through Mehrabad International Airport, he added.
Switching to Imam Khomeini International Airport, the first phase of which was inaugurated on Sunday by President Mohammad Khatami, Khorram said the Airport is scheduled to carry only six million passengers in its initial phase.
Khorram said the second phase of the Airport will come on stream in two years, while the third phase will take less than three years to be completed.
He added that the airport will offer fueling services to the planes destined to far east and Europe.
The Minister said a land has been set aside around the Airport for a project to build non military helicopters.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khorram said seven airports are going to be upgraded out of foreign finances.
As for national railway projects, Khorram said a railway project, connecting Bafq (Hormuzgan Province) and Mashhad (Khorassan Province) will come on stream during the 'Ten-Day Dawn' (February 1- 11), as part of celebrations marking the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Khorram said operations are underway to build a railway track west of the country at a cost of rls 500 billion.
He said Iran is to connect its railway to the holy city of Karbala in Iraq following installation of a popular government in the country. The project, he said, will take three years.
He said Iraq too will connect its track from Khaneqein to Khosrawi border northeast of Iran. Iran is ready to finance the project, he added.
Once the project is completed, said the Minister, nearly one million Iranians will go to Iraq a year to visit the holy sites, while 400,000 to 500,000 will come to Iran from Iraq on pilgrimage visit.
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