Editor's note: Russian expert's remarks were added in the article
Azerbaijan, Baku, July 9 /Trend, T.Konyayeva/
The ban on flights of Iranian planes in European airspace is linked with security problems, but this decision may be politically motivated, experts say.
"The decision by the European Union to exclude certain Iranian aircrafts from its airspace could be defended on safety grounds, a professor at U.S. Northeastern University Kamran Dadkhah wrote in an e-mail to Trend. - Nevertheless, the timing of this decision-coming on the wake of the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, and by the United States and its allies-gives credence to the argument that indeed it is, at least partially, a political decision".
Earlier this week, the EU Aviation Security Committee banned flights of two-thirds of the airliners of Iran Air Company in the airspace of the European Union.
Part of the Iran Air aircrafts was included by aviation authorities of the EU in the so-called "black list" of unreliable already in March of this year. The current ban was referred to all planes of the airliner - Airbus-320, Boeing-727 and Boeing-747.
According to Dadkhah, the background of this decision is in the time of the hostage crisis, after which the United States has prohibited the sale of American made aircrafts and aircrafts using American made parts as well as their spare parts to Iran.
The diplomatic crisis between Iran and the U.S. began November 4, 1979, when a group of students - active supporters of the Islamic Revolution in Iran - seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The diplomats, their families and embassy personnel were taken hostage. 53 Americans were kept for 444 days - until 20 January 1981.
Before the Islamic revolution, Iranian commercial air fleet consisted of Boeing produced in the U.S. and French Airbus.
"This has resulted in Iranian aviation companies to fly an ageing fleet of aircrafts; even these aircrafts are not properly serviced due to the shortage of spare parts; Iran is forced to buy second hand American made aircrafts from other countries; and Iran has bought unreliable Soviet era aircrafts such as Tupolov from Russia. The upshot is that Iranian aviation has had a poor safety record and one of the highest fatality rates in the world," the expert said.
Rouzbeh Parsi, an analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) in Paris, believes that the ban is more indirectly linked to sanctions or political motivation because there is a problem with Iranian air safety. .
"The Iranian aircrafts are degrading in quality and is an argument for that air safety is an issue whether the issue has reached the level that would justify a ban. At this moment I have no idea. That would require technical investigation," Parsi, European expert on Iranian policy, told Trend in a telephone conversation.
American expert Paul Sullivan believes that politics is likely behind this decision, but the maintenance records of Iranian airlines are really not the best.
"The recent sanctions may make the situation worse, Sullivan, professor at the U.S. National Security University, told Trend by e-mail. - One of the big results of the most tight sanctions against Libya by the UN was the severe problems its aviation industry had."June 9, the UN Security Council voted for adopting a new resolution, which envisages tougher sanctions against Tehran in connection with its refusal to give up its uranium enrichment activities.
This is the fourth resolution adopted by the UN Security Council for Tehran's refusal to comply with international requirements concerning the clarification of several issues to the world community over the Iranian nuclear program, including the existence of its military component.
The senior fellow at the Center for International Security at the Institute for World Economy and International Relations of Russian Academy of Sciences,Vladimir Yevseyev, agrees with the American and European experts. Yevseyev believes the restrictions on Iranian aircraft flights over the territory of EU, most likely political in nature.
"The technical condition of the Iranian aircrafts is really a serious problem, and Tehran really has nothing to respond to it, as the spare parts for the American plane Boeingare not delivered. To say nothing of scheduled maintenance at American firms," Yevseyev told Trend over the telephone. "Iran's air fleet rather worn and requires urgent replacement. But, putting restrictions on right now is political."
According to Dadkhah, the ban will cut into international travel by Iranians because most will have to use foreign airlines and pay a higher airfare.
"Iranian airline industry was already in trouble. This decision, if enforced, will cut down its operation even further," he said.
Thus, Parsi believes that there are basically only two different ways that can come out: European Airliners will have more business in flying people to and from Iran, or that Iranian reciprocates will say that European Airliners will also be restricted in their ability to fly to and from Iran.
"But that would hold the flow of passengers in both directions. And don't see who is going to gain from that," he said.
Parsi thinks that to some of degree it might add to the isolation of the country, but most probably, if the European business is interested, they will compensate for the lack of Iranian Airline ability to fly people.
"But it is as much a political decision as an economic in the sense that they will have to navigate the new restrictions on commercial ties to Iran that the European and American sanctions entail," he said.
Yevseyev believes such a decision can lead to the quite serious consequences.
"The Iranians will be forced to fly increasingly with other airlines and not on optimal routes (with additional boardings)," he said. "Apparently, the airfare will rise."
In response, Tehran could impose similar restrictions even for over flights over its own territory, but this does not solve the problem, Yevseyev said.
"The Iranian leadership will have to make a significant purchase of new civil aircrafts, for example, from Russia, if such restrictions preserved," he added.
It is possible that a flight ban on two-thirds of the Iranian civilian aircraft over EU unblocks the Russian-Iranian contract in the aviation industry, implementation of which was under serious matter and which do not fall within the limits of the UN Security Council resolution 1929, Yevseyev said.
The international air show 'MAKS-2007', Russian leasing company Ilyushin Finance Co." and the Iranian airline 'Iran Air Tour', signed a contract to sell five Tu-204-100 planes to the Iranian side In August 2007. The contract amounted to $ 200 million and start of deliveries was scheduled for 2009.
A delegation of JSC United Aircraft Corporation headed by its president Alexey Fyodorov visited Iran in February 2006. The talks with the Iranian side confirmed interest in the implementation of the "cooperation program" on the supply and joint production of Tu-214, Tu-204 and Tu-334 plans in Iran for 10 years.
Regarding the price of aviation gasoline, all experts agree that the embargo would not substantially affect its cost.
"I doubt that it will have any appreciable effect. First, the share of Iranian airlines in total air travel is quite small. Furthermore, a large number of Iranian passengers will switch to other international airlines," said Dadkhah.
Parsi does not think Iran Air and other Iran based airliners are that big part of flying economy that their marginalization on a market would affect the price of airline fuel.
Prices for jet fuel should not change greatly, as the flow of the Iranian aircrafts to EU is small, Yevseyev believes.
The consumption of aviation fuel by Iran is so tiny on a global scale that "this will not even be a small blip on the price screen", Sullivan said.E.Ostapenko contributed to article