Is This Airline Really A Front To Sell Boeing 737s To Iran In Violation Of Sanctions?

One Mile at a Time highlights an absolutely insane story about a Boeing 737 that was taken out of storage, flown (apparently illegally) into Bulgaria and then while supposedly being flown to the U.A.E. it declared an emergency over Iran – and some claim it was a ‘hijacking’.

The plane went missing over Iranian airspace, the airline has been silent about the incident, and there’s now speculation that the whole thing was a ruse by Fly Armenia Airways to sell the plane to an Iranian carrier in contravention of economic sanctions.

Fly Armenia just got its certificate for commercial flight in summer 2020, and it owns two Boeing 737s.

  • A 31 year old Boeing 737-400 registration UR-CNP
  • A 23 year old 737-300 registration EK-FAA

The Boeing 737-300, which it’s only owned for two months, has been storage in Tallinn, Estonia and was scheduled to fly to Hostomel, Ukraine for maintenance on February 19. Instead if flew to Varna, Bulgaria – despite Armenian-registered aircraft not being permitted to fly to the E.U.

The next day a new flight plan was filed to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, however it disappeared in Iranian airspace – “interestingly Tehran had been listed as a diversion point for the pilots” in case of emergency. It’s unclear what happened, whether the plane had a mechanical issue or “there was a hijacking” with “tracking for this aircraft’s registration..intentionally been turned off.”

The airline had planned – and cancelled – a press conference, for reasons I cannot quite sort. Perhaps it’s just Facebook’s translation,

Dear colleagues,

We inform you that today’s press conference will not be held. The reason for the delay of the press conference is not to arrive from the Islamic Republic of Iran. We apologize.

One Mile at a Time even wonders whether Fly Armenia Airlines itself is a front for a scheme to transfer aircraft to Iran in violation of international sanctions, and wonders whether their having taken possession of the 737-300 from a Lithuanian aircraft leasing company was simply to serve as a go-between.

After all, they hadn’t been flying this aircraft and their only other plane has been operating flights for Yanair. In other words, it’s an airline without any flights and as soon as they take off, without passengers, the plane goes mysteriously missing in Iran.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Whilst not the main point of this, flying Tallinn to Varna is not flying to the EU but within it as both Estonia and Bulgaria are EU member states. Further, whilst it probably should be given the contents of this story, Fly Armenia is not actually listed on the EASA blacklist, there are seven from Armenia though.

  2. 737-300? What’s next? MD-80’s? 747-SP’s?

    I’d say that if they’re going through this much work for a 20-30 year old aircraft that the sanctions are working.

  3. So what is the implied message here?

    I never understood how (by refusing to export safer aviation equipment) making Iranian civil aviation less safe would help further any strategic goals of the US, or the West in general.

    I would certainly like to see a more secular and democratic Iran. But this extreme sanction approach is simply illogical and solely driven by ideological dogmatism.

  4. EJC, look at the regs more closely. They’ve banned all airlines from Armenia, without exception.

  5. I don’t like Iran (nor do I like the globalist controlled U.S. government), but I feel it’s ridiculous to sanction a country for something that in no way contributes to any military proliferation. Commercial airlines serve the public. Making Iranian commercial air travel less safe doesn’t help anyone. Why wouldn’t the U.S. and Europe take Iranian oil money. It makes no sense.

    I personally don’t believe in sanctions for any conduct that happens in a sovereign country.

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