Domestic Economy

Nuclear Deal Dividend: Skies Full of Planes

Nuclear Deal Dividend:  Skies Full of PlanesNuclear Deal Dividend:  Skies Full of Planes

Many in Iran imagined an ensuing gold rush after the country signed a nuclear deal in July 2015 with western powers.

While that hasn’t exactly come to pass, there are some major indications that Iran is able to interact more and more with the rest of the world.

One simply has to glance skyward to see one of them, The Washington Post reported.

It has been almost a year since the nuclear deal went into effect. The deal limited Iran’s uranium enrichment program, besides paving a path to the opening of Iran’s doors to the global economy.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the country’s government and citizens have faced intense sanctions, especially on international financial transactions. This January, the European Union and the United States lifted some of those sanctions.

International air traffic to and from Iran is booming. At the country’s main airport in the capital Tehran, for instance, there were 140 more flights during a week last month than a week in May 2015 before the nuclear deal was signed.

Maps 1 and 2 use data from FlightRadar24, a company that tracks real-time flight data. It shows a remarkable thickening in routes, as well as the narrow spindles of new ones.

Much of the growth in international air traffic is due to airlines increasing capacity or frequency of existing routes. But it also includes many European airlines, such as Air France and British Airways that have been able to restart flights to Iran after long hiatuses.

Earlier, US sanctions had prohibited planes with American-made parts from flying to Iran, precluding many airlines from flying there. Both Boeing and Airbus, the two biggest plane manufacturers, use American parts.

Not only can those planes fly to Iran now, but the state-owned flag-carrier, Iran Air, inked deals worth tens of billions of dollars this summer with both companies to buy hundreds of planes. Those deals have not been finalized and are subject to a slew of skittish “ifs and buts” stipulated in the nuclear deal.

Iran Air has had to fly planes from before the Islamic Revolution, as well as Russian-made Tupolev jets due to the sanctions. But the massive aircraft order, which would make Iran Air larger than Air France, demonstrates the lofty hopes for growth in trade and tourism.

“Iran went from a marginalized and difficult place in the world economy in 2013 to a place of growth,” said Ray Takeyh, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations specializing on Iran.

Recent IMF data indicate that the nuclear deal will transform Iran’s economy from one that was declining to one that will grow 4.5% in the current financial year.

There is a sense of optimism regarding Iran’s economic growth. Iran is four times the size of California. It has vast oil reserves. It is home to a civilization thousands of years old, and has immense historic import and touristic potential.

Amin Chini, an Iranian aviation enthusiast living in Sweden, maintains a running list of routes to his home country, which is used in diagram 2. There are dozens of new, expanded and planned routes.

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