The Removal of Aviation Sanctions in Iran and its impact on the Armenian Aviation Industry

For many years Iran has been sanctioned and this has heavily impacted their Aviation Industry. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Iran has not been allowed to buy new planes from big manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing due to the aircraft containing U.S made parts. This has meant Iran has had to keep maintaining a fleet of vintage aircraft and many are now non-operational due to age as you can see in the picture. In more recent years, due to Nuclear Sanctions Iran Air has not been allowed to refuel its aircraft in many European cities meaning flights to Tehran had to stopover in cities such as Prague to refuel.

However, in January of this year all Aviation Related sanctions relating to Iran Air had been lifted following Iran’s implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action relating to their nuclear activities. This was swiftly followed by a massive order of 118 brand new Airbus Jets for Iran Air estimated to be worth more than $25 billion. Money which Iran has kept in the bank for years during the sanctions, waiting for this moment. Iran Air also ordered 40 turboprop aircraft from ATR, an affiliate of Airbus. With deliveries starting later this year, what can this mean?

Iran is a heavily populated country and it is almost guaranteed that there is demand for Air Travel both domestically and internationally. In previous years, many routes had to be shut down due to political and operational reasons. However now with the modernisation of fleet as well as a different, more friendly attitude to the West from Iran since the election of Hassan Rouhani, I am sure tourism will increase as well as business opportunities within Iran. Expect many new air routes to open and it is also rumoured that Iran Air will begin flying to North America again. This is something which has not been done since 1979 and with many Iranians living in the U.S. the demand is sure to be high. The number of Iranians living in Los Angeles is so high that it has been nicknamed Tehrangeles.

So how does Armenia fit into the equation? Armenia currently has no national airline. In recent years there were two main carriers, Armavia and Air Armenia. Both of these Airlines are now bankrupt and there is no chance of any new airlines beginning in the immediate future. The closure of these airlines was due to poor management and bad financial choices which led to the airlines being in debt. Iranian carriers already fly to Yerevan daily however, with Iran opening its doors we can see flights increase to multiple flights daily and this is ideal for passengers who want to go to Yerevan who can save time by going via transit to Iran and simply jumping onto another plane for 45 minutes which is very convenient as oppose to Moscow which often has long layovers.

Furthermore, many employment opportunities now exist in Iran for aviation professionals in Armenia that cannot find work because no airlines exist. I know of a Pilot who was a First Officer for both Armavia and more recently Air Armenia. Since they became bankrupt he could not find employment. However, last month an airline in Iran hired him and now he is employed again doing what he has trained many years to do. With success stories such as this I am sure many more exist and will open up as Iran expands its Aviation Industry.

Overall, the removal of Aviation Related sanctions in Iran will have a vastly positive impact for everybody involved. Iran can go back to the ‘glory days’ of having a leading Airline bringing both tourism and business to Iran’s economy. International economises will benefit from the big Aircraft orders Iran has made recently, which will keep thousands of people in employment. And even Armenia can benefit by creating another air corridor allowing more people to easily travel to and from Zvartnots Airport. In future we can hope that Armenia can overcome its problems and launch an Airline which can be profitable and not suffer the same problems its predecessors have suffered but for now this temporary solution has become available and can become very effective.

– Domenic Armaghanian

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