The popularity of flights to Iran has increased among Ukrainians and the aircraft occupancy on this route has exceeded 50%. The UM Air airline’s Chairman Rodrigue Elias Merhej announced this to the CFTS correspondent.

"The occupancy is increasing every day. We have about 75 passengers per flight today. Two months ago, it was 55 passengers. I am confident that we will reach 100 passengers by the end of June. The share of transit passengers is 15-20%, and it is also growing constantly. China and Thailand (Bangkok) are very popular destinations," he said.

UM Air operates flights between Kyiv and Tehran in cooperation with the Iranian airline Mahan Air. Boeing-737 aircraft (with 114-129 seats) and Airbus 310 (175 seats) are operated on this route. According to Rodrigue Elias Merhej, Mahan Air has practically the same number of passengers per flight.

"Their occupancy is around 45-50%. However, their flights are cheaper because they fill up with cheap fuel in Iran and then fly in and out of Ukraine. Therefore, the payback point for Mahan Air is not 65-70%, as is the case for us, but 45-50%," he said.

UM Air has a fleet of McDonnell Douglas aircraft and it takes Boeing-737 aircraft on a "wet lease" from its partners in the Aviation Industry Association.

"It is true that UM Air flies McDonnell Douglas airplanes, but we actively exchange aircraft with other members of the Aviation Industry Association. Currently, active integration is currently raking place between UM Air and the airlines Atlasjet Ukraine, Bravo, and Bukovina. We fly to Iran on Boeing-737," he said.

The chairman of UM Air believes that flights between Ukraine and Iran have great potential, but realization of this potential is hampered by visa restrictions for citizens of Iran. Increase of the frequency of the flights on this route will depend on the occupancy of flights.

"Once we see that the capacity that exists on the market is utilized by 80-85%, we will increase the frequency," he said.

As reported, the Iranian airline Mahan Air entered the Ukrainian market on 20 March. The carrier operates flights on the Kyiv-Tehran route in cooperation with UM Air, its Ukrainian partner. Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) also operates flights on this route.