Domestic Revamping Vital

Domestic Revamping Vital
Domestic Revamping Vital

The annual Skytrax World Airline Awards named the world’s top 100 carriers, with Middle East and East Asian airlines staving off competition from top US and European airlines.

The awards—decided by 18.9 million passengers in 110 countries—judge airlines on everything from the quality of their food and the comfort of their seats to the friendliness of their cabin crew, CNN reported.

Building on their 2011 and 2012 awards, Qatar Airways was voted the world’s best airline for the third time.

Singapore Airlines took second place this year, while Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, which claimed the top honors in 2014, came in third place. Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, ANA All Nippon Airways, Garuda Indonesia, EVA Air and Qantas airways rounded off the top ten.

What is intriguing is the fact that the countries represented in this year’s top five also had carriers named in 2014’s top five airlines.

  Sobering Reminder

Lack of Iranian airlines among the world’s top 100 is a sobering reminder of how far behind the competition Iranian carriers are, according to a report published in the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad.

Aside from western-imposed sanctions, the reputation of domestic airlines has greatly suffered thanks to a worryingly large number of aviation accidents in recent times.

Airlines’ revenue is contingent on factors such as safety, services and reputation. Given the importance of air travel to tourism, it makes sense to conclude that poor performance of domestic airlines will take a toll on Iran’s tourism industry.

According to Mohammad Reza Ebrahimpour, a commercial aviation expert, crippling sanctions and limited airlines cost Iranian carriers dear in domestic and global markets. In addition, Iranian airlines are not able to meet domestic demand.

“The situation has forced our hand and we have had to issue permit to foreign airlines, including Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways, to operate in Iran,” he said.

Not only do Iranians use these airlines to travel abroad, in some cases they resort to using foreign airlines to travel domestically, Ebrahimpour said.

  Indispensable Industry

Ebrahimpour said transportation is “the mother of trade and economy” and it is an indispensable industry.

“Developing the aviation industry will boost tourism and economy,” he said.

In addition to all that has been said so far, not having hub airports has only served to hold Iran back. Countries such as Turkey and Qatar boast international hub airports, with Turkey serving as a hub for 250 airlines.

Hub airports not only make traveling easier for the residents of a country that has such an airport, but it also has a significant impact on the economy. Any thriving airport is a source of GDP in itself. Even if passengers or freight are only traveling through Tehran for instance, rather than getting off and walking around, that is money that comes into the country that would otherwise be going to Istanbul or Doha. In other words, the better Iran’s air connections, the richer the country would be.  

Industry experts firmly believe that the lifting of sanctions is not enough to help Iran get back into the international market: The government must support domestic airlines by providing low-interest loans to help the industry and, by extension, the economy grow.