A Thursday flight carrying Iran’s Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and other senior government officials was the first to land in the airport in Gonabad, a city of nearly 50,000 people located some 230 kilometers from the Iranian border with Afghanistan.
The airport has been launched to boost economic activity in the region, according to a report by the official IRNA news agency which said that businesspeople in Gonabad and other cities in the region had to travel some 300 kilometers to reach the nearest airports in Iran’s east.
The project started some 30 years ago, said the report, adding that it accelerated in recent years amid Iran’s plans to complete a north-south transit corridor that passes through its east.
Gonabad is one of the key cities in Khorasan Razavi, an Iranian province where Iran’s second largest city of Mashhad is located.
Business activity in the region is expected to grow with the construction of a key railway from Mashhad to Zahedan near the border with Pakistan that passes via Gonabad. The railway will continue from Zahedan to Iran’s only ocean port of Chabahar on the Sea of Oman.
The government has spent some 35 trillion rials ($75 million) on the construction of a first phase of the airport in Gonabad, said the report by the IRNA which added that investors had agreed to pay for charter flights to and from the airport in the next 10 months to help boost its traffic.