Iran Awaits Series of Plane Deliveries by March
Iran is expecting several newly-purchased planes to be delivered before a March 20 deadline, which marks the end of the current Iranian year.
Iranian airlines are expecting to reap what they have sown during more than a year of intense negotiations with global plane manufacturers, in the wake of the lifting of Iran’s nuclear sanctions in January 2016 as part of a historic deal with world powers the year before.
Iran Air CEO Farhad Parvaresh said his company will receive an Airbus A330 by February 23, marking the second delivery from 100 jetliners the state carrier has ordered from Airbus.
Parvaresh was quoted by the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development's news service as saying that he could not speak confidently about the precise date of the delivery considering the paperwork that remains to be done.
“Another A330 will also be added to Iran Air’s fleet by March 20,” he added.
Late January, Iran Air published the image of an Airbus A330, which was said to be parked in France’s Chateauroux-Centre “Marcel Dassault” Airport and painted in the flag carrier’s livery.
“Iran Air’s new A330 has been spotted … Awaits delivery!” read a tweet from Iran Air’s official handle. A background check of the A330 shows the plane was initially built for the Sao Paulo-based Avianca airline, which canceled its order before delivery. The delivered A321 was also sold to Iran after it was canceled by another buyer.
Iran Air received an Airbus A321, the first plane from the multibillion-dollar Airbus order, on January 12, to ease concerns over a transaction that many said was endangered amid prospects of increasing political tension between Iran and the US after Donald Trump took office as new American president.
Iran finalized the Airbus contract on December 22. It is worth $18-20 billion based on list prices though Parvaresh has been quoted as saying that the value of the contract would not exceed $10 billion. It covers 46 of the narrow-body A320 family that includes the A321 model, 38 long-haul A330s and 16 of Europe's newest long-range model, the A350.
In addition to the Airbus pact, Iran Air also signed a deal to purchase 80 from Boeing and is close to a deal to buy turboprop aircraft from Toulouse-based ATR.
"Boeing has announced that its Iran Air contract is worth $16.6 billion. However, considering the nature of our order and its choice possibilities, the purchase contract for 80 Boeing aircraft is worth about 50% of that amount," deputy roads and urban development minister, Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan, has been quoted as saying.
Nonetheless, as tensions with Iran increase under Donald Trump, the future of Boeing’s deal with Iran Air remains in limbo. Industry observers suggest Tehran could pull out of the Boeing deal if tensions continue to worsen.
> ATR Deal Finalized
Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said on Wednesday negotiations to secure the $400-million order with ATR has “reached the final stage”.
Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying that both sides are “exchanging documents”, without elaborating.
The flag carrier has been in talks with ATR for over a year to purchase 20 short-haul aircraft, with the option of adding 20 more in future.
“The contract will be finalized if we reach an agreement over the Canadian engines of the plane,” Fakhrieh-Kashan was earlier quoted as saying.
The deal has reportedly been held up due to uncertainty over licenses for engines made by a Canadian subsidiary of Pratt & Whitney, America's top military engine maker and supplier to the colossal F-35 fighter project. Pratt & Whitney is seen to be wary of the political risks of dealing with Iran, especially with the F-35 project at the center of Trump's criticism of aerospace firms for going over budget, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, pictures of a new ATR-72 600 painted in the airline’s livery have been making the rounds in local media that expect the plane to be delivered soon.
According to Fakhrieh-Kashan, Iran expects three to four deliveries by March.
> Kish Airlines to Receive Embraer Jets
CEO of Kish Airlines, Mohammad Taqi Jadidi, says the carrier expects delivery of four Embraer 195 jetliners by March 20.
“These planes are a new generation of [Embraer’s] light passenger planes with a 108-seat capacity. They have been made in 2008 and 2010,” IRNA quoted him as saying.
The E190 and E195 are stretched versions of the smaller E170 and E175. The new versions have different engines and larger wing, horizontal stabilizer and landing gear structures.
Late summer, representatives of the Brazilian planemaker, including Arjan Meijer, Embraer vice president; Stephan Hannemann, market manager for Middle East and Africa; and Nico Martiniello, airline manager at Embraer Commercial Aviation, paid a visit to Iran to market their regional aircraft in the untapped, yet competitive Iranian market for short-haul jets.
Embraer organized events from August 29 to 31, including an educational session and a conference. The company also operated two demonstration flights around Tehran using an Embraer E190 model, a double-engine regional plane.
E190 and E195 models are the rivals of the Bombardier CRJ-1000 and CS100, the Boeing 717-200 and 737-600, and the Airbus A318.
Jadidi said buying Embraer 195 was aimed at operating flights to local airports that are less developed and cannot handle heavy planes.
Kish Airlines’ second medium-range Airbus 321 aircraft was delivered mid-November, a month after the carrier received its first twin-engine narrow-body A321.
The airline also purchased two Airbus A320 aircraft back in March. The deliveries are part of the carrier’s plan to add 10 planes to its fleet.
In addition to the Airbus jetliners, the carrier has seven US-manufactured McDonnell Douglas planes and three Dutch-made medium-sized twin-turbofan Fokker 100 airliners.
Although state-run Iran Air remains the biggest beneficiary of Iran’s nuclear deal, other airlines are gradually stepping up efforts to renew their aging fleet.
Iran Aseman Airlines is set to lease seven Airbus A320neo models from an undisclosed Irish firm following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization and the Irish Aviation Authority in Tehran last week.
According to a CAO statement issued after the signing ceremony, the cooperation agreement will see IAA extend technical expertise and assistance in the areas of flight operations management, airworthiness, and aircraft MRO to their Iranian counterparts.
Once ratified, it will also simplify the means by which Iranian carriers can lease aircraft from Irish lessors by improving Iran's air safety oversight procedures, Switzerland-based airline intelligence provider Ch-aviation reported.
Iran Aseman Airlines' fleet consists of three A320-200s, one A340-300, four ATR72-200s, two ATR72-500s, three B727-200s, one B727-200(F), two B737-400s, and 19 Fokker 100s.