Dubai Air Show

Trade Embargo Stifles Rising Air Transport Demand in Iran

 - December 11, 2006, 10:55 AM

Over the next five years Iran needs some 140 new airliners, half of which would replace a largely outdated fleet. Air transport demand continues to grow as the Iranian economy enjoys high oil revenues and 8 percent annual GDP growth.

The U.S. embargo on civil aviation products has effectively limited Iranian import of Western mainline airliners to less than a dozen used A300/310s since 1997. IranAir still wants to proceed with the long-negotiated acquisition of eight A321s, five A330-200s and three A340-300s.

In 26 years since the Islamic revolution, the airline has acquired only nine aircraft of all types. In 2004 IranAir carried 2.2 million passengers on international flights and 4.4 million on domestic flights against 1.6 and 3.8 million, respectively, the previous year. But a spokesman for IranAir noted that the increase resulted in far higher load factors than the airline otherwise would have seen if not for the artificial shortage of modern airliners, which has continued to reduce the flagcarrier’s share in the lucrative international market.

IranAir immediately needs 50 aircraft carrying roughly 6,000 seats collectively. The IranAir spokesman told Aviation International News that the carrier would prefer not to settle for Russian-built Ilyushins or Tupolevs. “We are Western-minded people,” he said. “IranAir staff and passengers do not like the Russian aircraft; we prefer Western designs.”                        –V.K.