The long-awaited P5+1-Iran nuclear deal is expected to create an economic boom in Iran’s aviation sector.
Major aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus, which earlier voiced their intentions to start selling planes to Tehran, are now in talks with the Iranian government.
Iran’s Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi discussed Airbus’s participation in the program during his visit to Paris in June and again during a trip by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to Tehran last week along with other issues, the details of which trickled into the press on August 3, Press TV reported.
“About 50 percent of Iran’s aviation fleet belongs to Airbus. In my visit to France, we held dialog with the company’s chief executive and demanded a plan for reconstruction of our aviation fleet,” he said.
Representatives of Boeing are expected soon to visit Iran to discuss rebuilding the country’s ageing aviation fleet.
“We are in contact with Boeing as well and representatives of the company will soon arrive in Iran,” Akhoundi added.
Iran’s need for passenger planes has increased as the country expects to see an improvement in its transactions with foreign countries following the nuclear deal between Tehran and six the world powers.
The Islamic republic plans to buy as many as 90 planes per year from Boeing and Airbus to revamp its antiquated fleet once Western sanctions are lifted.
Mohammad Khodakarami, the caretaker director of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said Iran will buy a total of 80-90 planes per year from the two aviation giants in the first phase of renovating its air fleet, IRNA reported.
“We will purchase planes from Boeing and Airbus in equal numbers,” Khodakarami was quoted as saying, adding that Iran would initially need to add at least 80 planes to its fleet each year. That would mean a total of 300 planes within five years, he added.
Khodakarami added that Iran will finance the purchases through mechanisms including leasing, foreign loans and state funds.
Iranian officials earlier said the county will need 400-500 civilian aircraft worth at least $20 billion in the next decade to renovate its aging fleet which has suffered under years of U.S. and European sanctions.
Earlier this year, Iran added 9 new planes less than 10 years old to its air fleet.
Iran has 251 commercial planes, many of which are not functional because of a lack of spare parts.
The average fleet age for Iran’s major carriers is 19 years.
Western-imposed 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 U.S. territories. U.S. sanctions also prevent European airports from providing Iranian carriers with fuel or accepting their money.
A preliminary agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in November 2013, however, led to an easing of sanctions in the aviation sector. Tehran was allowed limited purchases of aircraft parts and repairs, but not aircraft.
The U.S.-led sanctions on aircraft and spare parts exports to Iran have left Iranian airlines saddled with not only some of the oldest fleets in the Middle East, but also in the world.
Iran’s four largest carriers – Iran Air, Aseman Airlines, Mahan Air and Iran Air Tours – all have average fleet ages above 22 years, according to Iranian media outlets.