MUSCAT: The National Ferries Company (NFC) is hopeful that its fast ferry service linking Musandam with Iran will most likely begin this year.

The company recently organised a journey on board its Sawqrah ferry from Khasab port in Musandam to Bahman Port in Qeshm Island, Iran. Ghazi al Zadjali, head of marketing and communications at NFC told Muscat Daily that the latest trip was technical and experimental in nature.

“The visit was to check the facilities at Bahman Port, which is close to an hour’s journey from Khasab,” he said. The company had also undertaken a similar visit on its ferry to Bahonar Port in Bandar Abbas in Iran in late 2012. While Bandar Abbas is about two hours away from Khasab, a ride to Qeshm is shorter and it is yet to be decided which will serve as the destination for NFC ferries.

“Currently, we are looking at the big picture; the details will be clear in some time. Coordination with the authorities is ongoing and we have had positive feedback from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the minister urging all the parties involved to have some operations start in 2015.”

He added, “We are hopeful of overcoming the insurance problem and start operations sometime soon this year.”

The company has been facing difficulty getting an insurance for the ferries to be deployed on the sector because of international sanctions placed on Iran in response to its nuclear programme.

The working team of NFC comprising the company CEO, a number of engineers and technicians, and Ishaq al Busaidi, director general of the Sultanate’s Office for Economic Cooperation with Iran, held a meeting with officials at Bahman Port and its Free Zone.

The meeting reviewed future operation plans for ferries in the sultanate, as well as the administrative and technical needs related to transport of passengers, vehicles and goods between Khasab and Qeshm Island.

The delegation toured the port, its facilities and was updated about the available private sector investment opportunities. Qeshm island, which is about 1500sq km, is the world’s biggest independent and Iran’s most populated island. The distance by sea between Qeshm and Bandar Abbas is 20km.