The lack of public movement on any sales by Boeing to Iran’s airlines has had many wondering. It appears more data points on deals is starting to leak.
Once again the source is from inside Iran. Like the news before of deals for Embraer’s that were of Iran origin, we need to take the source at face value. (Caveat emptor) Note the source quoted is Iran’s president of the Iran Civil Aviation Organization. The story points out that in January there was already talk of 100 Boeing aircraft being ordered. The Airbus deal remains incomplete, though we understand it might be finalized in the next three months.
Iran has 18 airlines of various sizes. By far the largest is state owned Iran Air. The large Airbus order is thought to be primarily for Iran Air. The recent ATR deal was for Iran Air. We heard from one Iranian airline of their fear of being crowded out of deals with OEMs because of the heavy hand of the state in protecting and preserving Iran Air. The state will, of course, favor Iran Air. We only have to look at Air India to see how that might play out.
For the state, owning an airline may yet prove to be the money pit it has for other nations. Iran appears to want to compete with big regional carriers (ME3) because of its location. While the ME3 are also state owned, the similarities end there. It will take Iran Air a long time, if ever, to catch up with the ME3 competition. A new fleet won’t be enough.
While Iran Air gets the lion’s share of attention, smaller Iranian airlines are going to struggle to come out of the shadows. For example, Kish Air and its recent acquisition of A321 on wet leases. These aircraft are not new and will require more MRO attention as a result. Meanwhile the Russians continue to try to market the Superjet and the Tupolev 204. The Russians are hard pressed to offer aggressive financing.
For the OEMs, hope springs eternal in Iran. The Iranians know it and are playing all sides against each other.