Iran's need for new planes increased

By Sara Rajabova

Iran’s aviation sector expects huge changes following the easing of relations with world powers and removal of international sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear energy program.

Iranian officials have announced recently that the country needs about 600 planes within the next 10 years, raising earlier estimates by around 150.

Maqsood Samani, the secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines said Iran will need at least 581 planes to reach the targets set in 2026 Perspective Plan.

He added that this number of planes will be necessary to meet the passenger needs given that the demand for air travels as well as the transportation of cargoes by planes will surge in the near future.

Iran would need to buy 550 commercial aircraft of various models at a cost of $60 billion, several officials said. The country earlier purchased 13 narrow-body Boeing 737 aircraft in their latest move to rebuild the country’s commercial fleet.

Samani further added that the share of air cargo transportation is now below 0.2 percent, suggesting that a significant increase in the figure is necessary to boost the country’s economic activities.

Iran’s civil aviation fleet consists of 248 aircrafts with an average age of 19 years, 100 of which are grounded.

Airways News website reported in December 2015 that Iran is expected to order 450 new airplanes over the next five years.

It added that demand for international flights that would require wide body aircraft will specifically rise.

Analysts agree that Iran will be a growth market in 2016 but with thousands on backorder at the major manufacturers, the Iranian carriers will likely lease aircraft in the near term.

Iran closely cooperates with Russia to develop its aviation sector. Russian major airplane makers have already voiced readiness to satisfy Iran’s needs for planes.

However, Mohammad Khodakarami, the deputy director of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization was quoted by the media as saying that domestic airlines are not interested in Russian brands. To the same effect, reports emerged in the media last year that the country has already taken steps to purchase planes from leading Western manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus.

The Iranian aviation industry is under international sanctions. West's sanctions have barred Iran from buying western aircraft since the 1970s.

Moreover, the U.S. Treasury has barred Iranian airlines, including Iran Air, from landing or operating in the U.S. Furthermore, extraterritorial U.S. sanctions prevent European airports from providing Iranian carriers with fuel or accepting their money.

However, under an interim nuclear deal in 2013, the West eased the ban on sales of spare parts but selling planes is still prohibited.

A nuclear accord reached with Tehran in July has provided Iran with a chance to renew its fleet of commercial aircraft.

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Sara Rajabova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @SaraRajabova

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