IATA Wants Exemption From Iran Sanctions

IATA Wants Exemption From Iran Sanctions IATA Wants Exemption From Iran Sanctions

The Montreal-based International Air Transport Association has called on the Canadian government to exclude the body from its sanctions regime against Iran as it prevents it from performing its duties.

Radio Canada revealed in an exclusive report on Saturday that the international organization’s request has not yet received a reply from Ottawa.

Both IATA and the Canada’s Foreign Ministry have declined to comment on the issue.

Canada’s Iran policy during the decade-old reign of former prime minister Stephen Harper, a close friend and confidante of Israel’s right-wing and ultra orthodox prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was at best hostile.

Some say Harper, who was kicked out of power last week, was “more Catholic than the pope” and used all possible occasions to attack Tehran on everything from its nuclear program to human rights record. The two countries do not have diplomatic relations since 2012.

Representing more than 250 airlines worldwide, including Iran’s Mahan Air and Iran Air, IATA is one of the largest and most influential air transport organizations in the world.

IATA, which is an independent body, has a separate financial system that enables airlines and tour operators to sell tickets and ensure that passengers can get from one place to another with as little problem as possible.  In 2014, more than $523 billion was transferred between airlines through IATA’s system.

Canada imposed economic sanctions on Iran in 2012. The move prohibits financial dealings with Tehran. It complicates the task of the IATA worldwide and prevents it from fulfilling its duties.

IATA plans to engage with Iranian officials, airlines and airports to assist the country in rebuilding its aviation industry that along with other sectors has suffered under the sanctions regime because of restrictions on imports and on company’s it can and cannot deal with.

Since the organization’s headquarters is in Montreal — the capital of the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec — IATA must comply with Canadian law.

  Lifting of Sanctions

Following the landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) in July, Tehran has agreed to scale back its nuclear activities in return for a gradual lifting of international sanctions imposed by the European Union, United Nations and the US.

Some Iranian officials have said the restrictions will end by January 2016, whereas western diplomats are of the opinion that it will take Iran at least six months to fulfill its obligations under the nuclear accord.

Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — sworn in this week — has already indicated that he wished to adopt a more lenient policy toward Iran, but so far there have been no signs that the Trudeau government intends to lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Canadian sanctions and the uncertainty surrounding the new government’s Iran policy has made it difficult for IATA to perform its duties as an independent international civil aviation authority.

In late October, Tony Tyler, IATA chairman and CEO, told reporters at the IATA Aviation Day Middle East and Africa conference in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, that the Canadian sanctions were very strict.

“We are very constrained on what we can do because of the Canadian sanctions,” he said, according to

Despite Canada’s policies interfering with the organization’s duties, IATA is not planning to move its headquarters, according to CBC.

  Promising Market

For IATA, Iran’s budding travel industry offers a new investment opportunity. Iran’s tourism goals include attracting 20 million tourists a year by 2025, which could turn the industry into a $30-billion business.

“It’s going to be huge,” Tyler said, adding that IATA would look to advise the Iranians on modernizing their aviation operations, admitting the association wants to have “a strong presence in the country.”

But the association cannot act until sanctions are lifted.

Iran has earmarked an order of up to 400 new aircraft over the next decade and is expected to significantly invest in building new airport capacity after the sanctions ease.