Flights From Iran to Turkey and Germany Resume

Six months officially into the pandemic, international air travel is still not the same as we know it. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the global passenger traffic will not recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, a year later than previously projected as international markets still remain largely closed. The trade body concludes that the only major improvement has been driven by domestic air travel. This is indeed a trend clearly seen in Iran and as visualised below.

Hover your mouse over the points to see detailed passenger numbers and corresponding Iranian months.
Note: Bahman began on 21 January 2020. Months follow accordingly, circa.

Domestic air traffic in Iran noted 2,461,001 passengers (-33%) and 24,880 flights (-21%) during Mordad (22 July – 21 August 2020). This can be compared with international air travel, which has not experienced a considerable recovery.

Hover your mouse over the points to see detailed passenger numbers and corresponding Iranian months.

Last time Tehran-IKA, Iran’s major international airport, reported statistics was in Khordad (21 May – 20 June 2020). By that time, the passenger number only made up 4.7% of last year’s.

Hover your mouse over the points to see detailed passenger numbers and corresponding Iranian months.

Tehran-IKA’s number of flights is 14.2% of last year’s, which is also a figure substantially lower than what the domestic sector has achieved. The figure is not expected to have improved drastically to levels close to Iranian domestic air travel during the two months since the last reported statistics. However, Emirates’ return, Qatar Airways’ increase of frequencies, and IranAir’s new routes in July 2020 must have had a positive impact and are worth mentioning.

Now there could be a serious push towards levels of normality as major airlines and routes return to Iran’s international network.

Turkey announced the resumption of scheduled flights to Iran as of September 22nd, after a roughly seven-month-long hiatus. Mahan Air inaugurated the Istanbul route with flight W5114 departing from Tehran. Turkey is Iran’s top foreign destination with over 100 one-way flights per week, during pre-pandemic times, and Istanbul serves as a major transit hub for Iranian travellers. Turkish Airlines’ return has therefore been long-awaited with the airline delaying the resumption date multiple times since April.

Turkish Airlines confirmed this week that it will operate seven weekly flights between Istanbul and Tehran, to begin with. Previously, the airline planned to resume flights to Tehran with 14 and later 21 flights. Before the suspension, the frequency was at 35 weekly flights. According to the airline’s website, flights to Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Isfahan will resume with one daily flight each and the frequency of the Tehran flights will return to 35 weekly flights effective from the winter timetable (late-October 2020). This is however not per any official announcement, which has been the main source of reliable information during these times, and it is highly likely that the schedule will be modified.

While Turkish Airlines is the most important player on the Istanbul route, other airlines’ resumptions within the next few days should not go unnoticed. Together they have a significant share of the market, although they mostly serve point-to-point passengers.

Airline Route Weekly frequency Effective
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Tehran 7 September 25th
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul-Tehran 4 September 25th
IranAir Istanbul-Tehran 1 September 25th
Mahan Air Istanbul-Tehran 7 September 22nd
Iran Airtour Istanbul-Tehran 3 September 25th
Iran Airtour Istanbul-Tabriz 1 September 28th
Qeshm Air Istanbul-Tehran 2 September 24th
Aseman Airlines Istanbul-Tehran 7 September 25th
ATA Airlines Istanbul-Tabriz 2 September 25th

In addition to the scheduled services, charter flights will resume as well. The sale of package tours to Antalya began minutes after SunExpress announced it will resume flights on October 1st.

Looking farther west to Germany, one of the first European countries to suspend flights to Iran in March has now given permission to resume flights. On September 22nd, IranAir announced that flights from Tehran to Frankfurt, Cologne, and Hamburg will resume on October 3rd, 2nd, and 12th respectively. The Frankfurt route will be operated twice a week, the Cologne and Hamburg routes once a week. IranAir used to operate three weekly flights to Frankfurt and two weekly flights to Hamburg.

This also opens the way for Lufthansa to resume flights to Iran. According to the airline’s website, a once-daily service between Frankfurt and Tehran is planned to resume on October 25th. A day earlier, Lufthansa’s partner Austrian Airlines plans to resume a once-daily service between Vienna and Tehran. These plans are also highly likely to change until an official announcement can confirm it.

Austria had imposed a landing ban for a number of countries, including Iran, which lapsed on July 31st. On August 15th, IranAir resumed flights to Vienna with one weekly flight. Iran’s ambassador to Austria met with Austrian Airlines’ CEO Hoensbroech on September 22nd to discuss the resumption of the airline’s flights to Tehran, a route which was first established in 1984.


Photo: TJDarmstadt