Hyderabad, May 11 (IANS) Direct flights between Hyderabad and Iranian holy city of Mashhad are expected to start from June 30, said Iran's consul general here.
Aseman Airlines, a private carrier of Iran, would operate the bi-weekly flight, Hassan Noorian said. He was talking to reporters Friday night.
With this, Mashhad will become the second Iranian city after Tehran to have direct air connectivity with India.
Currently, there are bi-weekly flights from Mumbai and four times a week flights from Delhi to Tehran. Mahan Air, also a private carrier, is set to make the Delhi-Tehran route a daily flight.
The diplomat said the direct flight between Hyderabad and Mashhad would immensely benefit a large number of Shia Muslims who go to the holy city for 'ziarat' (pilgrimage).
The pilgrims have to now change many flights to reach Mashhad, the capital city of Khorasan province and famous for the Imam Ali Reza shrine.
Noorian said it was in 2009 that the two countries had agreed to starr the Hyderabad-Mashhad flight. Hyderabad, with a sizeable Shia population, will be the first city in south India to have air connectivity with Iran.
The air connectivity is also expected to boost trade between the two countries and increase the number of Iranian tourists coming to India, especially to south India.
About 30,000 Indians, majority of them pilgrims, travel to Iran every year. Iran has an embassy in Delhi and consulates in Hyderabad and Mumbai.
About 50,000 Iranian tourists visit India every year but very few come to south India. Iranian officials said tour operators take them to cities like Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.