Turkey’s package tours despite flight ban unlawful, says Iranian official

Turkey is offering package tours to Iran before flights with the country are authorised, in a move that is unlawful, the spokesperson of Iran Civil Aviation Organization said.

Turkey has yet to open its borders to Iranian tourists, permitting only its nationals and those holding work visas to enter the neighbouring country, Reza Jafarzadeh told Iranian Mehr News Agency.

Ankara closed its borders and suspended flights with Iran - among the earliest countries to suffer a major COVID-19 outbreak - in February in bid to stem the spread of the pandemic. While Turkey opened its border gates with the neighbouring country last month for freight transportation, it has yet to resume flights.

“Airlines must have adequate control over ticket sales. They are only allowed to sell tickets after securing flight permits to foreign countries,’’ Jafarzadeh said.

The Iranian aviation official warned passengers to check their flight status before purchasing tickets and tours.

Maqsoud Asadi-Samani, secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines, announced last month that a domestic airline would resume flights between Tehran and Istanbul as of August while the national flag carrier airline of Turkey, Turkish Airlines has begun the sale of the tickets between the nations’ capitals dated for July 16.

Iran was Turkey's fifth biggest source of tourism during the first eight months of 2019, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute. Close to 1.37 million Iranian tourists visited Turkey from January to August of last year. "