Iran Air Industry Faces Tough Competition in Region
There are numerous reasons for the emergence of the present condition
but the most important of them is the shortage and exhaustion of the
countryís air fleet.
This article has no intention to disturb the mind of the audience by
offering astonishing statistics and figures on the potential air industry in
the region; it is rather an attempt to point out the preparation of the
regional countries (Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar) in the years
not too far away, for annual traffic of at least 250 million passengers and
20 million tons of cargo at the airports of these countries.
According to its Vision Plan 2025 (i.e. in less than nine years), Iranís air
industry is expected to stand in the first place with regard to cargo
transportation and in the second place in terms of handling passengers in
the region. But a glance at the unfortunate realities about Iranís air
industry will make it clear that the gap between our country and the
regional countries is so deep that with the continuation of the past trend
realization of the target of the Vision Plan would look like a dream.
Unfortunately, presently our airports have the capacity to handle 7 million
passengers and 200 thousand tons of cargo annually. By assuming the
development of Imam Khomeini International Airport and other international
airports of the country (which faces serious opposition from the opponents
of the incumbent government), the maximum capacity of our airports for the
traffic of international travelers will reach 20 million passengers in 2025.
Clearly Iranís share would be minimal in comparison with the ambitious plans
made by rivals in the region.
Even with the assumption of development of our international airports in the
absence of improvement of Iranís airlines, these airports instead of playing
a significant role in increasing exports would turn into facilities for
imports just like our free zones. Due to the weakness and aging of the air
fleet in Iran under the present circumstances, our share of several hundred
billion dollars in exports of the air services of the region is almost zero;
on the contrary each year Iranian passengers (with the countryís airports as
the embarcation and destination) pay about 3 to 4 billion dollars to the
There are numerous reasons for the emergence of the present condition but
the most important of them is the shortage and exhaustion of the countryís
air fleet. At present the number of active planes of Iranian airlines is
about half of those owned by such tiny states as the United Arab Emirates
and Qatar. This is under conditions that these countries, due to small
territory and air space, cannot operate domestic flights; therefore the
number of planes operating on foreign flights in those countries is more
than twice the number of planes used by Iranian airlines on qualified
The average life of the Iranian airlines fleet is more than 22 years whereas
the average life of the air fleet of the rival countries is less than 5
years while the quality and capacity of their fleet is not comparable with
the commercial fleet of Iran. For example, it can be said that the value of
two wide-body aircraft of the UAE is more than the value of the entire
exhausted Iranian fleet.
The tragedy is further revealed when we learn that investment in the air
industry today is profit making, that is to say it is no more necessary for
governments to boost their air industry through non-profit development
projects; rather it would be enough to provide legal support for the
development of this industry and in that case the investment made would be
completely economical (either in aviation infrastructure or in air fleet)
while the national authority and dignity and well-being and safety of the
Iranian citizens would be safeguarded.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known commonly as the Iran
deal or Iran nuclear deal, is an international agreement on the nuclear
program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1
(the five permanent members of the United Nations Security CouncilóChina,
France, Russia, United Kingdom, United Statesóplus Germany), and the
Meantime, the European aviation giant, Airbus, has sealed a contract with
the Iranian flag carrier, Iran Air, for the sale of 100 aircraft, worth over
$18 billion dollars at list prices, to the Islamic Republic.
Earlier, Iran Air finalized a deal for 80 jetliners from US plane maker
Boeing Co., with the planes scheduled to start arriving in 2018.
Even Russia and China are using the most prestigious aircraft building
brands on their passenger airlines.
But despite knowing the realities about Iran air industry, a number of
people influential in the process of decision making, without offering any
logical reason, are opposing the deals.
With due regard to the present condition and position takings of the US
Congress, these deals can be considered a turning point in economic
relations and international rights of our country. Economic issues are
highly important but our national authority, pride and dignity and
maintenance of the welfare and safety of our citizens, which are among the
responsibilities of the government, are more important.