A European Tour – beginning one side of the continent, traveling to the far side, stopping off at several destinations in between. Sounds like a rock-star moment, something akin to normality pre-pandemic times. During these strange times, very few of us are permitted to engage in international travel – unless that is, one is a politician.
Image by Aero Icarus
For one government official who prefers face-to-face meetings in place of ‘zoom’ or ‘skype’ when conducting business, Iran’s Foreign Minister who recently entered into a week-long round of talks with several of his European counterparts. One man’s dislike of communications technology is anothers gain. This of course meant flying and that means a glimpse at something different for the aviation enthusiast.
The whistle-stop tour kicked off on Wednesday 12th of May when the diplomatic party departed Tehran Mehrabad Airport on board an Islamic Republic of Iran – Government A321-231 (EP-IGD), Flight No. IRAN05 and flew east to Syria. A day later, the aircraft made the flight to Madrid, Spain and after a day or two travelled on to Rome. Aswell as government meetings, the Iranian Minister was granted an audience with the Pope in the Vatican.
After the Italian stop, Dublin was next on the list and the 21 year old A321 arrived on RW28L on Tuesday 18th May, just before 8pm. An unusual aircraft to be seen at Dublin Airport, the livery has been updated in early 2020 but to our eyes the previous colour scheme was more effective.
The aircraft first operated with Monarch Airlines in the year 2000 as G-OZBD in 220 seat configuration. After its stay, it was off to Iran in 2005 as EP-AGB to fly with Iran Air, Mahan Airlines and Meraj Airlines since 2010. Since finding its home in Iran, its received another new registration, EP-IGD and been converted to a VIP role with cabin revisions to reflect this. The A321 while used to ferry government officials appears to continue its operations by Meraj Airlines.
Discussions with the Irish Foreign Minister, Taoiseach and President necessitated an overnight stay for the Iranian delegation who no doubt were treated to a warm Irish welcome and hospitality. Ireland's recent position at the table of the UN Security Council may have been a contributing factor to the visitation by the Iranian guests. The following day, EP-IGD departed Dublin bathed in glorious sunshine at 16:47, destination Vienna. Leaving Vienna later that evening at 21:30 had the A321 back at Tehran early the next morning. A positive week for all involved - A politician’s work is never done.
Image by Daniel Brent
On the afternoon that EP-IGD departed Dublin, another aircraft from the east was making its way towards the Irish capital. 4X-ABG an Airbus A320-200 of Israir Airlines landed at 18:50 on Wednesday 19th May, in from Tel Aviv, a flight time of 5hr 32min. coming close to the 2010-built aircraft's range. A swift turn-around had the A320 back in the air by 20:00 making its way back to Israel.
It returned again to Dublin the very next day Thursday at the same time in the evening and again on Friday. The aircraft has been with the airline since new and is part of a fleet which operates another three A320’s and three ATR-72’
Images by Aero Icarus & Daniel Brent