Iran Air makes post-sanction Airbus purchase

Iran_Air_Cargo_Boeing_747-200_KvW-smallAfter being forced out of the aviation arena for nearly four decades due to United Nations sanctions, Iran Air has made a bold statement with an order for 118 Airbus aircraft, now that sanctions have been lifted from the government of its home country. Some press reports said the country may be in need of as many as 500 new planes to replace its current fleet.

The U.N. trade embargo was lifted in the wake of a report this month by the Atomic Energy Agency that Iran’s government had complied with the terms of the nuclear non-proliferation deal struck last summer between Iran and the United States.

The Airbus deal, one of the first major international aviation purchases from Iran since 1979, involves only aircraft in passenger configuration, but will include 73 widebody models, so most of the impact on cargo will be in the form of belly capacity. The purchase will include twenty-seven A330s, eighteen A330neos, sixteen A350-1000s and twelve A380s. There will also be forty-five narrowbody A320s and A320neos in the mix.

“Today’s announcement is the start of re-establishing our civil aviation sector into the envy of the region,” said Farhad Parvaresh, chairman and CEO of Iran Air. “Along with partners like Airbus, we’ll ensure the highest world standards.”

In addition to the aircraft orders, the deal with Airbus will include training programs for pilots, maintenance crews and other support services. The new planes and improved expertise are likely to transform the carrier, which currently operates an aging fleet of 26 aircraft with an average age of more than 26 years old. Many of the current Iran Air aircraft – including a 27-year-old 747-200F and a 35-year-old A300B4F – are banned from traveling in the European Union for safety reasons.

So far, Iran Air has negotiated only with Airbus because the UN sanctions have been lifted for the European Union. Should Iran Air, or other Iranian carriers, consider purchasing aircraft from Boeing, which would provide more choices for freighters, the participants would need to negotiate a waiver from the U.S. government, which still has a ban in place against trading with Iran.

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