Sharafbafi’s appointment marks a new era both for women and for Iran’s aviation industry.
Farzaneh Sharafbafi, 44, is the first woman to have earned a PhD in Aerospace and has served as Iran Air’s Research Department director and board member prior to her appointment as CEO. She has also taught at Amir Kabir University of Technology and Shahid Sattari University of Aeronautical Engineering.
Hassan Rouhani’s government has encouraged the appointment of women to high-level management positions and has put great emphasis on meritocracy in the selection of officials; and the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development has been among the first to follow through with this. Sharafbafi’s prior education and training, as well as her professional experience in Iran Air, make her a highly qualified candidate for the position of CEO of this company.
Sharafbafi’s appointment as well as current developments in Iran Air, all point to this company’s attempt at renovating itself and becoming an international competitor. Iran Air has made deals with Airbus, Boeing, and ATR for the purchase of new commercial aircrafts that are going to replace Iran’s aging fleet. In addition, Sharafbafi has been tasked by the Minister of Roads and Urban Development to optimize and restructure Iran Air to help it compete with major airlines in the region and provide better services to passengers. All of this points to the fact that Iran Air is on the verge of a great transformation and with a qualified woman at the helm of the company, these developments could come about more quickly.
Iran Air was founded in 1944 and became a major airline in the region in the 60’s and 70’s. However, after the Islamic Revolution and due to US sanctions on the purchase of aircrafts and spare parts, Iran’s commercial fleet faced many challenges, including but not limited to safety issues and flying and refueling bans in the EU. It is only after the nuclear deal (JCPOA) and lifting of international sanctions that Iran was finally able to strike deals with major plane-makers for the purchase of new commercial jetliners.
Sharafbafi replaces Farhad Parvaresh, who headed Iran Air for the past 8 years and is now representing Iran at ICAO.