Officials in Iran have threatened to ban international airlines which fail to use the term ‘Persian Gulf’ when entering its airspace.
Threatening to impound planes which fail to display the appropriate terminology on in-flight monitors, Iran is insisting airlines apply the term when referring to the stretch of water separating it from its southern neighbours.
Designating the region ‘Gulf’ or ‘Arabian Gulf’ is likely to cause offence, insisted officials, with airlines offered 15 days to change the name on in flight screens.
The ongoing battle over the name – with Saudi Arabia and most other Arab states insisting the body of water be called the ‘Arabian Gulf’ – has escalated following the cancellation of the Islamic Solidarity Games.
A mini-Olympics for the Islamic world, the event was cancelled after the Iranian hosts refused to remove the term ‘Persian Gulf’ from the medals.
The matter came to a head earlier this month, according to Iranian state media, when an air steward of Greek origin was sacked and deported following an argument over the issue with a passenger.
Following the spat the Iranian transport minister, who is presently facing calls for his impeachment for alleged lack of competence, decreed the use of the description ‘Persian’ would now be enforced on airlines coming into the country.
“The airlines of the southern Persian Gulf countries flying to Iran are warned to use the term Persian Gulf on their electronic display boards,” he explained.
“Otherwise they will be banned from Iranian airspace for a month the first time and upon repetition their aircraft will be grounded in Iran and flight permits to Iran will be revoked.”
Iran has also held conferences to support its position, while an ancient map with ‘definitive proof’ of the correct name was sent on a world tour.
While the United Nations refers to the sea at the Persian Gulf, many airlines are likely to settle for the generic ‘Gulf’ when flying to the region.