Iran has fewer, older aircraft than neighbours

Business Materials 4 January 2012 14:37 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 4/ Trend M. Moezzi

Iran has far fewer and older aircraft than other countries, the Islamic Students' News Agency (ISNA) reports.

Iran has more secondary airlines than most nations. With 55 aircraft, Iran Air, the country's national airline, is its largest. Mahan Air has 42 planes, Aseman Airlines has 31 and Zagros Air has 8 airplanes, said Dr. Mehdi Behzad, a professor at Sharif University of Technology.

The planes used by Iranian airlines are much older than those flown by neighbouring countries. Dr. Behzad's study showed that 48 of Iran Air's fleet are on average 23 to.62 years old, while the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) airline, Emirates, has 167 planes just over six years old.

Among Iran's other neighbours, Qatar Airways has 103 aircraft with an average age of 4.9 years, Saudi Arabia has 138 planes with an average age of 10.3 years and both are far larger and younger fleets.

The United States banned the sale of new aircraft to Iran after the 1979 revolution. For most of the last 30 years, the U.S. permitted the sale of parts needed for Iran's American-made planes to fly safely.

Those approvals were made on a case by case basis, according to the website gulfonline.com. That changed when even supplying Iran with parts for its U.S.-made aircraft stopped in the summer of 2011.

Iran says it is working to phase out its Boeing aircraft, but U.S. and European Union (EU) sanctions make finding new craft extremely difficult. The U.S. has led the drive for greater sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear programme.

The EU has banned some Iranian flights from flying over its airspace because it considers them unsafe. Since 2005, as many as 700 Iranians have died in 13 plane crashes, according to gulfonline.com.