Emirates Group’s dnata to re-enter Iran

Dubai: Emirates Group’s subsidiary dnata will open a travel agency in Iran later this quarter, its first foray into the country in a decade.

Dnata, an airport and travel services company, exited the Iranian market around ten years ago after it was unable to transfer a licence to operate ground handling and management services at Tehran’s Mahrabad Airport.

Dnata will open a travel agency in the Iranian capital, Tehran, “this quarter” with a local joint venture partner, dnata president Gary Chapman told Gulf News in an interview on Tuesday.

“Hopefully as things liberalise a little bit and things open and sanctions are lifted we will be in the right place at the right time, he said at Emirates headquarters after the company announced a record full-year profit of Dh1.1 billion.

Dnata will re-enter Iran around five months after nuclear related sanctions were lifted in January, opening the country’s economy up to foreign investors.

The start-up investment cost was “negligible,” Chapman said, while also admitting that despite completing due diligence there is some confusion over what has changed now that sanctions have been lifted.

“You’re right, ambiguity is the right word and you’re never quite sure how things are going to be interpreted,” he said.

Iranian officials have complained that the United States is obstructing dollar denominated transactions from taking place, forcing companies to use the Euro or other currencies.

Dnata may also find itself navigating through a political rift in the Gulf. The United Arab Emirates downgraded diplomatic ties with Iran earlier this year after Saudi Arabia’s embassy and consulate in the country were ransacked. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic and trade ties.

“I don’t think it helps does it but that’s the reality,” Chapman said, while adding he would “love to have an operation at [Tehran’s] Imam Khomeini airport.”

By Gulf News