Iran’s aviation industry has been hit by plenty of problems in recent years.
U.S. sanctions have made it all but impossible to refresh the country’s ageing fleet of planes, meaning some $44 billion in orders with the likes of Airbus and Boeing have had to be shelved.
Local airlines have also been forced to cancel some international services because of pressure from Washington on third countries. The most recent to do so was Mahan Air, the country’s second largest airline, which has said it will stop flying to the Italian cities of Rome and Milan at the end of the year. Iranian airlines sometimes find it difficult to even refuel overseas.
To add to all those problems, it seems airline passengers are now staying away too.
According to officials at Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) in Tehran, the number of passengers flying through the country’s most important gateway fell by 8.5% in the first half of the current Iranian year (which runs from late March to late September) to just under 4 million. At the same time, the number of flights operating in and out of the airport fell by almost 16% to 23,221.