MIAMI – After a downturn in flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic and tensions, Iran is drawing up plans to give discounts to some international airlines using its airspace, according to state news agency IRNA.

According to a report by Reuters, the state news agency quoted Nasser Aghaei, director of the state-run Iran Airports and Air Navigation Company saying that the discounts, which are pending government approval, would go to the top eight airlines providing transit income and those boosting their flights by 20%.

No general fee cut is planned though, IRNA said. Iran is one of many countries paying so-called overflight charges, which are typically used to finance services such as air traffic control, and weather and aeronautical data.

Why Foreign airlines avoid Iranian airspace

Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737.

Major airlines rerouted or canceled flights in January before the pandemic in order to avoid airspace over Iraq and Iran following an Iranian missile strike on U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

On Jan 8, when the Kyiv-bound Ukraine International Airlines (PS) Boeing 737 crashed shortly after the takeoff en route from Tehran to Kyiv, all 176 people on board a Ukrainian airliner flight were killed.

Iran acknowledged shooting down the plane but said that it had done so by mistake while on high alert, hours after it fired at U.S. targets in retaliation for a U.S. strike that killed an Iranian general.

Additionally, in June, several global airlines re-routed flights over parts of the Gulf to avoid Iran-controlled airspace, after the U.S. aviation regulator suspended their carriers from the region following Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone.