Iran acquires four used Airbus aircraft
Iran has received four used passenger aircraft to replace planes in its aging fleet, despite sanctions in place. Iran's aviation authority confirmed Friday that four planes had arrived in Iran. "The four Airbus 340 aircraft have arrived in the country and will soon be used in civil aviation," an authority spokesman told the Khabar-Online news portal on Friday. He did not say how Iran was able to acquire the four planes despite the sanctions.
According to consistent media reports, the planes are said to have been retired from Turkish Airlines in 2019 and subsequently parked at Johannesburg Airport in South Africa by the new owner company. Turkish Airlines did not initially comment. As reported, among others, by the tabloid "Bild" and the news portal "t-online.de" as well as several industry portals, all four aircraft with license plates from Burkina Faso are said to have taken off from Johannesburg last week. Officially, the plan was to fly to an airport in Uzbekistan. However, the planes landed in Tehran.
The spokesman for the Iranian aviation authority admitted that due to the sanctions, the purchase of new passenger aircraft had become enormously difficult for Iran. As a result, he said, the country had to operate "with its lights off" in this regard. The term is used in Persian for deals that are not carried out properly.
Iran has had problems with its passenger aircraft for years. Unofficially, it is said that most of the planes are still Boeings from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The civil aviation authority also has problems with spare parts, as these in particular for Boeings are no longer supplied by the United States. As a result, almost 60 percent of the country's total of more than 330 aircraft have reportedly already been taken out of service.
Following the Vienna nuclear agreement, the then moderate government of President Hassan Ruhani had concluded a billion-euro deal between Iran's state-owned airline and Airbus in Paris in 2016. In return, 100 Airbus aircraft were to be delivered to Tehran. There was also another deal with French-Italian manufacturer ATR at the time. There was also talk of a deal with Boeing, at least for the supply of spare parts.
But Iran received a total of only 16 aircraft from the two manufacturers because of the renewed nuclear dispute with the United States. Since then, according to persistent rumors, Tehran has been trying to get hold of used Airbus aircraft via foreign dummy companies. The deals have never been confirmed.
Photo by Alireza Akhlaghi