Azerbaijan, Baku, May.17/ Trend F.Karimov/
Iran plans to establish two new airlines in the current Iranian calendar year which started on March 21, the Mehr News agency quoted Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation head Hamidreza Pahlavani as saying.
A number of planes will be added to the national fleet in the current year, he said, stating that 19 were added to the fleet last year.
In March, Pahlavani said that Iran has added two Airbus 340 planes, three Fokker 100 planes and two others of different models to its national fleet.
He added that currently 18 airlines are in operation in Iran.
In April 2012, the Fars News Agency reported that Iran plans to increase the number of aircraft and replace 25 outdated planes with new ones.
The Civil Aviation Organisation will remove 25 planes with over 30 years of service from the fleet most of which are Boeing 707 and Boeing 727 models, according to the report.
In February, the Fars News agency quoted the head of the association of Iranian airlines, Abdolreza Mousavi, as saying the airlines are unable to pay off their fuel debts to the Oil Ministry due to their bad financial situation.
"With rising foreign currency exchange rates and fuel prices, the goal of expanding passenger seats will never be realised," he added.
Many aircarft of the national fleet have been grounded due to financial problems, he said, adding that spare parts and components are purchased from second-hand sources with great difficulty.
On January 14, Iran increased the price of fuel for international flights by 14,200 rials ($1.1) to 21,200 rials ($1.7), a triple rise within a week.
"The U.S. has been trying to ground the Iranian civil aviation industry for 30 years, but they could not. Instead, the Iranian administration grounded the industry within a week through increasing fuel prices by 14,200 rials," Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, deputy speaker of Iran's Majlis (parliament), commented.
The recent 60-70 per cent increase in Iranian airlines ticket prices caused a 50 per cent fall in the number of passengers.
On January 7, many domestic flights were cancelled because the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) had not provided the airlines with fuel due to their outstanding debts.
NIOPDC says the airlines owe five trillion rials (about $410 million) to the company. The airlines believe that rising fuel prices has increased their costs up by 300 per cent.