In one of its landmark achievements, Iran Air received the first jetliner of the 100 aircrafts purchased from Airbus on January 12, 2017 – after nearly 40 years of sanctions on the country’s aviation industry. The second delivery, an Airbus A330-200 – a modern, long-range, wide-body airliner – has joined Iran’s fleet for the first time on March 11, 2017. A third plane of the same model is going to be delivered by the end of March and four more A320s are scheduled for delivery in the 3rd quarter of 2017.
The sanctions affected Iran Air in different ways: nearly 70% of its current fleet is currently out of service, leaving only 20 aircrafts functional but these also face issues regarding maintenance due to sanctions on aircraft spare parts. Furthermore, since 2010, Iranian aircrafts have been prohibited from refueling in European airports, forcing the airliners to land and takeoff in secondary airports, imposing an extra cost of $20,000 on each flight.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was implemented in January 2016, has opened venues for increased trade and mutual cooperation and has specifically created many opportunities for Iran’s aviation industry. These achievements include, but are not limited to:
- Direct negotiations with major aircraft manufacturers to purchase modern jetliners;
- Concluding and signing MoUs on training and aircraft maintenance and spare parts purchase;
- Contracts on purchasing radars and navigation systems;
- Concluding and signing MoUs on developing airports in Iran, such as Salaam Terminal at IKA, Imam Khomeini Airport City, Mashhad International Airport, etc.
- Resuming cooperation with carriers such as British Airways and KLM as well as increased number of flights between Iran and international destinations
Renewing Iran’s aviation fleet with commercial jetliners purchased from Boeing, Airbus and ATR was made possible after overcoming hurdles such as issuing OFAC licenses and hostile opposition from Israel and the US House of Representatives. The new aircrafts are financed by foreign parties and leased to Iran Air; a feat has been accomplished through direct negotiations and without any intermediaries. Furthermore, these contracts include post-purchase services such as overhaul and maintenance, provision of spare parts and flight crew and pilot training.
Iran Air has been aiming to realign itself with these new changes. The airline has formulated structural changes and is set to implement them in the next six months. With new aircrafts, this airline could add more flights to its destinations lineup and comply with international standards on flight safety; working towards a better flight experience for passengers and greater profitability for Iran Air.
These developments in the post-JCPOA era mark a new epoch for Iran Air and Iran’s aviation industry as a whole: one of progress and performing on a scale corresponding to global standards, in hopes that Iran can regain its position at the regional and global levels and the country’s economic growth can be pursued and accomplished with greater speed.