TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Thursday expressed regret over the incident, saying the pilot's mistake while announcing the flight information and the code of the permit already issued to the aircraft resulted in Iranian air traffic controllers not being able to identify the plane.
"The question of not issuing a permission is by no means correct," he said, adding that after the Bulgarian embassy in Tehran presented its official request, the permit was issued for the flight of the country's prime minister to pass through Iran.
Qassemi suggested that the announcement of wrong information as well as contradictions in the information and the flight permit code could have been due to changes made by the pilot in the last moments.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has one of the safest air transit routes in the region and in the whole world, and civilian aircraft keep passing through it. Definitely, Iran’s airspace is always open to airplanes coming from friendly countries like Bulgaria, which has very good relations with Iran,” he said.
On Wednesday, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva was quoted as saying that the plane had been asked by Iranian authorities to leave the country's airspace despite having the necessary diplomatic permission for the overflight.
"The refusal is inexplicable," she said, adding that the flight had been forced to fly to Saudi Arabia via Iraq.