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Iran grounds New Year flights on Y2K concern

TEHRAN, Iran, December 28, 1999 (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday it would cancel all New Year flights at the country's airports as a precaution against the Y2K computer bug.

The state civil aviation agency will halt all flights from 1830 GMT on December 31 to 0230 GMT on January 1, a spokesman said.

A source close to the agency said it had stopped short of banning all flights through Iran's air space, but that few such flights were expected.

Flag carrier Iran Air said earlier it would halt international flights from 1830 GMT on December 31 to 0630 GMT on January 1. Iran has several other state-run and private airlines.

The aviation agency and the airline have said that all of their flight-related computers are Y2K compliant.

Iran has declared January 1 a public holiday because of millennium concerns.

Officials have warned of possible disruptions in energy, communications and water.

Iran has blamed sanctions by the United States for delays in its efforts to make U.S.-made equipment Y2K compliant.

Experts say Iran may be less vulnerable than other states to the Y2K problem because of the low-tech nature of its banking, services and most industries.