Domestic Economy

New Wide-Body Airbus Jet Lands in Tehran

Domestic Economy Desk
The new A330 is the first wide-body jet from a firm order Iran placed in December 2016 for 100 Airbus aircraft, including 46 single-aisle and 54 wide-body jets
New Wide-Body Airbus Jet Lands in Tehran - (Photo: Alireza Izadi)
New Wide-Body Airbus Jet Lands in Tehran - (Photo: Alireza Izadi)
The A330-200s will allow Iran to reinstate some long-haul services beyond Europe and deeper into Asia, as it looks to build up a bigger international route network

Iran Air’s new Airbus A330-200 landed in Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on Saturday 8:57 a.m. On board the plane were deputy minister of roads and urban development, Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan, and the flag carrier’s CEO Farhad Parvaresh who had officially received the plane in Airbus delivery center in Toulouse, France late Friday.

On the sidelines of a ceremony held after the landing, Fakhrieh-Kashan told reporters that four million Iranians use foreign airlines every year due to the bad condition of Iran’s air fleet.

Parvaresh hoped that with the new delivery and more to come in the near future, Iran Air will be able to provide passengers with better services.

The new A330 is the first wide-body jet from a firm order Iran placed in December 2016 for 100 Airbus aircraft, including 46 single-aisle and 54 wide-body jets.

The deal 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, considering the number of orders placed and the current market conditions.

The A330 features a two-class cabin layout, seating 32 passengers in business and 206 in economy. It has been referred to as “Iran’s first modern wide-body” plane in local media.

 New Dawn for Iran Air

“The arrival of the first A330-200 heralds a new dawn for Iran Air, as it churns over its aging fleet, but it’s worth remembering that the A330-200 is an aging model and is technologically inferior to the 787, 777 and A350. However, for Iran Air’s immediate needs, it will be a better replacement for the gas guzzling A300s and A310s,” Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, told Financial Tribune.

“The A330-200s will also allow Iran to reinstate some long haul services beyond Europe and deeper into Asia as it looks to build up a bigger international route network.”

According to Airbus, Iran Air has ordered 45 planes from the A330 family which, considering the 54 wide-body jets order, means the number of A350s on the list is down to nine.

In addition to the Airbus deal, Iran Air has also signed a deal to purchase 80 planes from Boeing. The $16.6 billion deal includes 50 of Boeing’s narrow-body 737max 8s, 15 wide-body 777-300ERs and 15 777-9s, which will be delivered to Iran Air over 10 years, according to the website of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development’s news service.

Uncertainty has been surrounding the implementation of the Boeing deal since Donald Trump was elected as US president. However, the Trump administration's Treasury Department stated on Monday that it would continue to grant licenses to companies such as Boeing so that they can pursue multibillion-dollar deals with Iran, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

 More Efficient Options

“There’s no doubt the A330-200 is a good workhorse, but Iran Air will be keen to get its hands on A350s, 777-300ERs and 777Xs which are far more fuel efficient, cost less to operate and will provide better flexibility,” Ahmad said.

“The A330-200 is technically a previous generation jet and many airlines are standing down their A330s in favor of 787s or A350s.”

Officials are unhappy with the fact that Iran Air, once a frontrunner, has lost its place to regional rivals over the past years.

According to Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi, Iranians paid $12 billion for air tickets to international airlines between 2011 and 2014.

“With a revamped fleet, the best way for Iran Air to leverage the demand that is prevalent in the Persian Gulf/PGCC region, [is that] the airline has to explore greater code-share opportunities to help spur inorganic growth and develop traffic too,” Ahmad said.

“These will come over time and it’s unreasonable to expect a tidal wave of change any time soon.”

Another A330 by March 20

Parvaresh said on Saturday that another A300 will be delivered by Friday.

Iran Air was delivered a single-aisle Airbus A321 on January 12.

According to Fakhrieh-Kashan, the carrier is also awaiting the delivery of a few short-haul planes made by the Franco-Italian plane manufacturer ATR by March 20, but those deliveries have been postponed to the first month of the new Iranian year (starting March 21, 2017).

Iran Air 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. This contract is worth $400 million.

"The talks are close to a final contract, but there remain difficulties. Issues regarding after-sales services for Canadian engines of the plane have yet to be resolved," Fakhrieh-Kashan said.

“It’s normal for delays in contractual discussions pertaining to engines since repair and overhaul costs can make the difference between flying an airplane, or writing it off,” Ahmad said.

“Given ATR’s dominance in the regional airplane market, I think a deal will be struck since both Iran Air and ATR want it to happen. It’s very similar to the deal with Boeing and how that has yet to be firmed up. Once the minutiae of the engine element are signed off, the ATR deal is good to go.”


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