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Direct Flights to US Improbable

Direct Flights to US Improbable
Direct Flights to US Improbable

The launch of direct flights between Iran and the United States, hopes of which resurfaced following the nuclear deal with the world powers last year, appears to be contingent on improving political ties.

Even if airlines have both the interest and funds to initiate the flights, they have no chance of doing so unless important decisions are made by the political authorities in the two states, said Maqsoud As’adi Samani, secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines.

The official added that the same condition applies to direct flights between Iran and Canada, for which there is almost zero possibility unless political relations are repaired.

“Even if airlines present models indicating that the launch of the flights is economically justifiable, it will still have few, if any, prospects due to political reasons,” Samani told the official website of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.

However, expanding international flights will definitely be on the cards for Iranian airlines once their aging fleets are renovated with new aircraft.

“Iranian airlines currently operate direct flights to some European and Southeast Asian countries. But they will be able to offer more long-haul flights to destinations further away, after their aging fleets are renovated,” he said.

Following the lifting of international sanctions, Iran set out to renovate and upgrade is old fleet of airplanes, quickly striking a deal with Airbus to purchase 114 aircrafts, including a number of A380s. The sanctions were lifted in January once Iran’s compliance with the contents of the nuclear deal signed last July with the six world powers was confirmed.

Some saw the purchase of A380 planes, which are used for long-haul flights, as a sign that Iran Air, the national flag carrier, would restart direct flights to the US after nearly 40 years, but the two governments dismissed the claims.

The first flight between Iran and the US was launched in 1975 with a Boeing 727 which took off from Tehran for New York, with a stop in London for refueling. Later 747s were added to the route.

The flights continued until 1980, a year after the Islamic Revolution, when the US government did not allow the landing of an Iranian airplane in New York’s JFK Airport following the US Embassy takeover in Tehran. The Iranian Boeing 747 was diverted to Montreal airport in Canada and no Iranian planes have flown to the US since. The two countries do not have diplomatic ties after the American mission was seized in November 1979 by revolutionary students who later named it the ‘den of spies’.