coronavirus; Herat-Mashhad ticket sales has turned into a mafia

Demand for Herat-Mashhad air tickets has increased following the closure of Iran’s land borders with Afghanistan. A review of 8 Sobh newspaper shows that with the significant increase in demand for purchases, the Herat-Mashhad air ticket sales market has turned into a mafia and profiteers are making a lot of money through it.

In Herat, only one ticket shop sells Herat-Mashhad tickets exclusively, and there is a big difference between the price of a ticket from Herat to Mashhad and a return ticket from Mashhad to Herat, but travelers have to buy a return ticket.

On the other hand, buying and selling tickets also has major problems, and powerful people, senior government officials and the Iranian Consulate General in Herat are involved in selling it; But officials from the Iranian Consulate General in Herat declined to comment on it.

In addition, while the cost of a corona test for travelers entering Iran from the land border is 500 Afghanis, travelers entering Iran by air must pay 2,500 Afghanis for a corona test.

Some Afghan citizens residing in Iran and traveling to Afghanistan say that the closure of Iran’s land borders has created many problems for them and that they are now unable to buy air tickets to return to the country.

Local authorities in Herat consider the sale of Herat-Mashhad air tickets unacceptable and emphasize that they have talked to Iranian officials in connection with resolving existing problems and providing more facilities for travel across land borders and are waiting for a response from Iranian officials.

According to information provided to 8 Sobh newspaper, during the last month, ever since the closure of Iran’s land borders, there has been a huge increase in Herat-Mashhad flights. From May 15th to June 2nd of the current solar year, at least 19 flights have been operated by Boeing 137 between Herat and Mashhad. The aircraft has a capacity of 143 passengers.

Similarly, on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of June, with the increase in the number of ticket buyers, three Airbus 340 flights have operated between Herat and Mashhad, which has a capacity of 346 passengers. On this account, from May 15th to June 5th, about 3,755 passengers traveled from Herat to Mashhad.

A simple review shows that the difference between the cost of a corona test for passengers entering from the land border and passengers entering from the air border to Iran is “2000 Afghanis” per passenger. Now, if we calculate this price difference with the number of passengers who have traveled from Herat to Mashhad in recent weeks, we get a large amount of money.

The cost of a corona test for travelers entering Iran from the land border is 500 Afghanis, but travelers traveling by air have to pay 2,500 Afghanis; This means that the total of 3,755 passengers who traveled to Mashhad by air, amounting to 7.5 million Afghanis, about $ 97,000, paid more just for the corona test.

On the other hand, the fare for each passenger form Herat-Mashhad by land is about 1400 Afghanis (equivalent to 18 dollars), but due to the closed land borders of Iran, passengers have to pay 200 dollars to travel to this country, the difference in price is definitely eye catching. The difference between air travel and land travel for each passenger who traveled from Herat to Mashhad in recent days, is 182 US dollars and the total difference for 3,755 passengers is 683 thousand US dollars; it is a huge sum which most of the passengers cannot afford and are waiting for the land borders to reopen.

At least four ticket sales companies in Herat, who insisted on remaining anonymous, told 8 Sobh that the exclusive sale of the Herat-Mashhad ticket was carried out in collusion with the Iranian Consulate General in Herat and that Iranian officials did not allow tickets to be sold in the open market.

Over the past month, hundreds of returning passengers from Iran to Afghanistan have been stranded in Afghanistan due to border closures and are unable to purchase airline tickets. Behbood, a man who came to Herat about two months ago to attend a wedding party with four members of his family, could not travel back to Iran after the borders were closed. Speaking to 8 Sobh newspaper, he said that in order to take care of his business in Mashhad, he had to leave his family members alone in Herat and fly to Mashhad by air; But it is difficult to buy a Herat-Mashhad air ticket and he has been waiting for several days to buy a ticket.

Another traveler who traveled to Mashhad from Herat, without mentioning his name, told 8 Sobh newspaper that he waited for about a week to buy a ticket and was finally forced to buy a return ticket from Herat to Mashhad at a price of 220 dollars. According to him, while the Iranian government has closed its land border with Afghanistan for the reasons of preventing the spread of the corona virus, health recommendations are not heeded on Herat-Mashhad flights and dozens of passengers are flown to Iran without heeding to health recommendations and social distancing.

Two other passengers who flew from Herat to Mashhad and did not want to be named in the report, told 8 Sobh that they had paid a lot of money to buy tickets and the corona test, and that the closure of Iran’s land borders had created many problems for traders and travelers.

There are also reports that some Afghan students and citizens living in Iran have traveled from Iran to Afghanistan with the promise that the land border will be opened for students and people residing in Iran, and now have to return to the country by air.

The 8 Sobh newspaper wanted to take into account the views of the Iranian Consulate General in Herat regarding the closure of the border and the ticket sales market, but the officials and officials of the media department of this organization did not respond to the request of the 8 Sobh newspaper.

Passengers on the Herat-Mashhad route say that the only way to travel to Iran is by air due to the closure of the land borders between Iran and Afghanistan, and that the Herat-Mashhad ticket market has turned into a mafia, and some people are trying to turn up a good profit off of this turbulent market.

To check the sales of Herat-Mashhad tickets, I went to several ticket stores in Herat; But all the ticket sellers pointed to a location which was of walking distance to the Iranian Consulate General in Herat, and is the center for the air ticket sales of this route. The company that sells the tickets exclusively.

Before going to this ticket store, as a ticket buyer, I went to the headquarters of Kam Air airlines in Herat, but the central representative office of Kam Air also gave the address of the same ticket store. Eventually I went to the ticket office where a large number of ticket buyers had gathered at the gate.

Amid the hustle and bustle of ticket buyers, a young man with a “Iranian Persian” accent was checking travelers’ passports to sell tickets and trying to arrange a queue of visitors. I waited a few minutes and talked to some passengers; People who had come to Herat from different provinces of the western region to buy their tickets.

Wandering travelers from Badghis and Ghor to Farah and Nimroz waited for the land borders to be opened and had no choice but to travel by air to Iran to prevent their visas from being revoked. They complained about the closure of the land borders and analyzed that the reason for the closure of the borders was not the corona, but the political turmoil in Iran on the eve of the presidential election and the borders will not open until the end of the elections.

As I was talking to the passengers, the same man who was arranging the queue said, “There is no ticket for today, please come tomorrow.” The man thought I had gone to buy a ticket. As the crowd dispersed, I approached him and introduced myself as a journalist who had come to make a report.

He identified himself as the representative of Kam Air Airlines for the sale of Herat-Mashhad tickets. I asked to interview him but he refused to be interviewed, but wanted to share some information off the record.

My first question was: “Why is the Herat-Mashhad ticket priced at $200 and a return ticket is $20?” The answer was that most passengers only buy tickets and do not return or travel by land; keeping this into account, the demand for a round-trip ticket is 90% and for a return ticket is 10%, and for this reason, there is a price difference of $200 between the one-way ticket and return ticket.

The second question was: “Why in the Herat-Mashhad ticket sold exclusively by only one ticket sales center in the whole of Herat?” The answer was that previously there was coordination between the Iranian Consulate General in Herat and airlines that sold tickets but now tickets are not sold without Iranian passports and visas.

In the past, when Iran’s land borders were open, the country’s consulate general in Herat forcibly issued “visas of entry by air borders” to some travelers, forcing travelers to travel by air to Iran at a higher cost.

The third question was: “Has the sale of the Herat-Mashhad ticket turned into a mafia? The Kam air representative replied “No, it is not a mafia, but some influential figures, senior local officials in Herat and officials at the Iranian Consulate General in Herat request tickets, and we cannot refuse their request and have to cut the queue and provide tickets to the people they introduce.

However, Herat Governor Seyed Wahid Qatali told 8Sobh that there had been several complaints from citizens and that the ticket price is not proportionate with the people’s ability to buy tickets and that the price was not acceptable to the Herat local government.

The governor of Herat added: “Why is there so much contradiction and discrimination in prices that the one-way ticket to Mashad is $250 and the return ticket is $50! “Vaccine tax and tax ticket are a bit contradictory.” According to him, the rumors about the closure of Iran’s air border are not true and the air border is still open.

Nourahmad Haidari, the deputy governor of Herat, who discussed the blockade of the border and the problems of passengers in a joint meeting with the officials of the Iranian Consulate General in Herat a few days ago, told 8 Sobh newspaper that a route for cargo trucks has been facilitated and so should a route for the passengers be facilitated.

Herat Deputy Governor emphasizes that Iranian officials promised to provide the necessary facilities for the arrival of patients, students, businessmen and people residing in Iran through land borders so that these group of travelers could enter the country by land but Iranian officials are awaiting a decision from the National Anti-Corona Headquarters.

Meanwhile, an important question that remains unanswered and that Iranian government officials must answer is how the corona virus is not transmitted through the air border and by airplanes carrying 350 passengers, but is not transmitted through the land border and by car with a maximum of five passengers?

On April 29th, Iran’s land borders with Afghanistan were unilaterally closed by the Iranian government. In addition, Iran has closed all land borders with Pakistan and some of its western, southern and northern neighbors due to the widespread outbreak of the “Indian variant” in India.

While Iran’s land borders with Iraq, Turkey and some of its neighbors have recently been reopened, land crossings with Afghanistan and Pakistan are still closed, creating many problems for travelers planning to travel to Iran.

Although after the closure of Iran’s land border with Afghanistan, local officials in Herat announced that the border closure was temporary and would be reopened, more than a month later, there is no news of the opening of Iran’s land border. Mafia controlling the Herat-Mashhad ticket prices has created many problems for travelers.