Iranian airlines struggle to survive

When you normally visit a travel agency website to find the best flight, you may face various advertisements, announcing the cheapest solutions.

Some other airlines may offer the best business seats for the best price. Some may focus on how much more baggage you can take with you, etc.

But barely you expect to see advertisements bolding “how younger the aircrafts of an airline” is! Or whether that particular airline has never had a fatal crash! Or maybe choosing this particular airline your expected delay might be the minimum.

Well, if you have never seen such advertisements, you should visit some of the Iranian travel agencies’ websites!

In a country where out of 330 aircrafts, only 165 are flight worthy, the competition to win a passenger is all based on other factors than the quality of service.

Iranian airlines have difficulty to get the necessary components and spare parts to repair their airliners and the number of damaged ones is increasing.

In 2017, 100 airplanes from the total fleet were not able to fly; today it is half that number.

With the return of the US sanctions, Iran not only could not buy new aircraft it had planned. While airlines were already struggling with repairing their aircrafts, the spread of Coronavirus made the situation even worse.

Last year, the number of international and domestic flights dropped by 90% and 50% respectively. Still the airlines are not permitted to sell more than 60% of their capacity, although some passengers complain about their flights being full.

“The aviation industry is highly dependent on international affairs”, explains Yunos Daghighi-Kia, Head of Association of Iranian Airlines, “60 percent of the airlines’ costs are always in dollars. Devaluation of the Rial during the past year has increased our costs considerably, while we are not allowed to modify our prices accordingly because the government thinks that people cannot afford any increase in the fairs.”

Although airlines say they have not adjusted their new prices since the exchange rate in November 2020 doubled, still both domestic and international tickets are quite dear.

A return flight from Tehran to Kish Island costs at least 15 million rials (70 USD) and Tehran to Frankfurt about 150 million rials (700 USD).

While average monthly salary for a mid-level manager in Iran is around 70 million rials, ticket prices do not seem to be quite low even for this category. Adding to that, being worried about the safety of the flight itself, skepticism might be a more effective drive to decrease the number of passengers and consequently the income of the airlines in Iran.

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