Tabriz Feather: Eram Air
It seems crazy nowadays that the 400 scale model manufacturer Phoenix would produce something as obscure and random as an Eram Air Tupolev Tu-154, but back in 2011, when this model was made, Phoenix was a little more interesting. Even so, quite why they felt the need to produce this model is puzzling as Eram Air appears to have been out of business by then and was never a major Iranian airline to begin with. Of course, that makes it all the more interesting to me, but also makes it even harder to find out much about the airline.
Iran is a massive country (the 17th largest in the world) and home to over 80 million people, which, despite its pariah status throughout much of the West, is an important regional power with a well developed civil aviation infrastructure. Liberalisation of the airline industry in Iran saw several new airlines emerge in the 2000s and although carriers like ATA Airlines, Meraj Air, Taban Airlines and Zagros Airlines continue to this day Eram Air does not.
Eram Air was formed in December 2005 by Mohammad Ali Shafiei and was based at the city of Tabriz. Tabriz in the far north-eastern corner of the country is the 6th largest city in Iran with a population of over 1.7 million people.
The initial equipment for the startup airline was a pair of early 1990s build Tu-154Ms leased from the major Russian airline Omskavia, and registered EP-EKA and EKB. Both entered service wearing the unusual colourscheme of Omskavia, featuring separated red and green fuselage striping combining in a featherstyle motif on the tail. Eram Air merely added their titles to the fuselage and their logo onto the tail.
The Eram fleet appears to have remained static for several years until the March 2007 lease of an MD-82 owned by an obscure Turkish operator named Tarhan Air. The aircraft, by then TC-TTB, had a varied history. It was delivered to Martinair in 1983 and passed through the hands of a diverse range of airlines ending with Spirit from December 1997 until August 2006. In keeping with the Tu-154s the MD-80 kept much of its old Spirit livery with added titles and logo, although this made a far less pleasant combination than the Omskavia 154s.
The MD-82 remained in service only until December 2008 when it was stored at Istanbul. By that time 3 other Tu-154s, EP-EKC-E, had joined the fleet all taken over from Iran Airtour Airlines. This 'new' equipment allowed for the original Tu-154s to be returned to Omskavia just as the Russian airline collapsed itself. It seems that at least EP-EKB never got back to Russia.
Eram Air was still in expansion mode though and acquired 3 or 4 ex-Condor Boeing 757-230s on lease from VIM Airlines of Russia. The service entry dates are a little vague but in keeping with previous form the aircraft wore the gaudy pink VIM scheme with only small ERAM titles and this time had no sign of the unusual Eram tail logo. I have seen photos of RA-73012 and 73015 with ERAM titles, apparently RA-73008 and 73011 were also used.
Below: RA-73012 was back with VIM by June 2009. In this photo it is easy to see that the title region of the aircraft has been repainted.
Things don't appear to have been going well for Eram Air by this point and photos suggest that by July the airline's fleet was grounded. There is some suggestion that there was another pair of MD-80s in use but if there was I can't find any evidence of them. The 757s also appear to have been returned to VIM around this time.
Photo evidence suggests the trio of Tu-154s was back in service by August 2009 but oddly images dry up after then although some sources suggest the airline continued until 2013! Since all Tu-154s were withdrawn from service by the end of February 2011 that seems highly unlikely.
In terms of routes operated the Iran's two biggest cities of Tehran and Mashhad were flown to, as was the popular holiday island of Kish. It seems international services also were flown to Istanbul and Izmir, in Turkey, plus Damascus in Syria. That is about all I have been able to find out about Eram Air - a rather obscure airline and certainly one of the most unusual 400 scale model releases ever made. My only footnote is that for reasons that escape me Phoenix never made a standard Omskavia version of the model even though it only needed new titles and the removal of the Eram logo.
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I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: