Well, this is without a doubt the most interesting airline story of 2021, although we actually have no idea what happened.
737 derives in Iran, has not been seen since
Fly Armenia Airways is a relatively new airline based in Yerevan, Armenia. The airline was founded in 2019 and did not receive the airline company certificate until 2020. The airline has a small fleet consisting of just two 737s:
- There is a 737-400 that is 31 years old and has the registration code UR-CNP
- There is a 737-300 that is 23 years old and has the registration code EK-FAA
Well, at the moment the airline’s fleet is again limited to one aircraft as the 737-300 went missing in Iran. How could that happen? Well, on February 19, the plane was supposed to fly to Ukraine for maintenance after being in storage for a while:
- The plane took off from Tallinn, Estonia, where it had been stored. The destination should be Hostomel in Ukraine, where the aircraft should be serviced
- For reasons unknown, the plane flew to Varna, Bulgaria instead; This is particularly strange as aircraft registered in Armenia have been blacklisted by the European Union and the aircraft should not have been allowed to fly there
- Plans for the next day appeared to have changed and the decision was instead made to fly the plane to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates for maintenance
- The plane then “disappeared” over Iranian airspace and, interestingly, Tehran was listed as a diversion point for the pilots
- The crew declared an emergency over Iranian airspace – some sources suggest a technical problem, while other sources suggest a hijacking
It’s worth noting that flight tracking has been purposely turned off for the registration of this aircraft. So it’s clear that something was hidden here (and we’re not just talking about when the emergency was reported, but from the time the plane took off from Tallinn).
Today the airline posted the following message on Facebook, whatever that means:
We inform you that today’s press conference will not take place. The reason for the delay in the press conference is not the arrival from the Islamic Republic of Iran. We apologize.
What actually happened here?
The leading theory as to what is going on is that this was all an operation to try to sell a plane to an Iranian airline. Due to sanctions against Iran, Iranian airlines cannot purchase aircraft with US-made parts.
This is one of the reasons why Iranian airlines fly such old planes, which they buy in the used market for the most part with questionable funds. That’s why it’s likely that the following is going on here:
- There is simply no good explanation for the plane making an unscheduled stop in Bulgaria, then changing its flight schedule, and then disappearing in Iran while it claims to be hijacked
- One has to wonder to what extent Fly Armenia Airways is actually an airline and not a company with any other destination. The 737 that was “missing” was in the camp for a long time, while the other 737 operated flights on behalf of Yanair, a Ukrainian airline (although flight tracking shows that the aircraft flew mostly between Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia)
- Fly Armenia Airways recently acquired this aircraft from GetJet, a questionable Lithuanian aircraft leasing company. did Fly Armenia Airways merely act as an intermediary for this transaction?
- There are reports that Iranian Caspian Airlines plans to receive a Boeing 737-300 soon, which may not be a coincidence
If indeed this is what it seems, was Fly Armenia Airways set up solely for this purpose, or what? Realistically speaking, the airline is in great trouble after it flew this aircraft into EU airspace and possibly delivered this aircraft to an Iranian airline in violation of the sanctions.
A Fly Armenia Airways Boeing 737-300 mysteriously disappeared over Iran a little over a week ago, and we have not heard from about the aircraft since then. While there is allegation that there was an “emergency”, all the indications are that this is a creative way for an Iranian airline to buy a 737 and bypass sanctions.
I think we’ll see if a Caspian Airlines 737-300 is magically put into service in the coming weeks …
Interesting or what?