The Boeing 737-300 leased by Fly Armenia Airways reportedly went missing on February 20. The company said that it underwent repairs in Estonia’s capital Tallinn and was due to proceed to Ukraine for further maintenance. It said the plane flew instead to Varna, Bulgaria before ending up at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport.
Armenia’s Civil Aviation Committee said in early March that it has reached a “tentative agreement” with Iranian authorities on the plane’s return to Armenia. It said that Iranian officials have informed their Armenian colleagues that the plane is still malfunctioning and that Iranian aviation specialists need more time to decide whether it can safely fly to Yerevan.
After the missing Boeing 737-300 landed at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport Armenian government officials and airline representatives insisted that it was hijacked. But they refused to elaborate, saying that a criminal investigation is underway.
“Yes, they tried to hijack the plane,” said Karine Sahakian, Fly Armenia’s deputy executive director. “A criminal case has been opened within that framework and we have provided relevant bodies with full information.”
Sahakian said the company will publicize that information after the inquiry is over. She assured reporters that the plane could not have been deliberately diverted by its Armenian pilots.
“The problem was that we fell into a trap set by a criminal group,” said the aircraft captain, Artur Harutiunian. He too refused to go into details.
“As soon as the investigation is complete we will definitely come up with a statement,” Tatevik Revazian, the head of the Civil Aviation Committee, said, for her part. What happened was a “crime,” she said without elaborating.
The Fly Armenia executive dismissed suggestions that the small carrier secretly sold Boeing 737-300 to an Iranian airline in violation of U.S. sanctions that prohibit any transfer of U.S.-made aircraft or their spare parts to Iran.
The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan has expressed concern about the plane’s disappearance and urged the Armenian authorities to investigate it.