It has been a very good week for Boeing. MIAT Mongolian and Iran Aseman both ordered the 737 MAX. Yesterday MIAT Mongolian Airlines announced it’s decision to lease two 737 MAXs from Avolon, the leasing firm. Today Iran Aseman Airlines signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the purchase of 30 737 MAXs plus 30 options.
MIAT is a small airline as the next table illustrates. The MAXs come at a good time (2019) to replace two older NGs. These aircraft are also leased.
Iran Aseman is a much larger airline. It seems clear that the 30 MAXs will replace the active 737s and A320s. We have contacted the airline to ask about this and will share their response if and when it comes back. The fleet is generally old as is expected with Iranian airlines. In previous communications with the airline, we were told how hard it is for them to acquire spares. It was explained that waiting for US approvals on permission to acquire spares was trying.
Winning this deal is important for Boeing because the airline is privately held. This means it does not have deep pockets like Iran Air and does not have the state negotiating its deals. It also has to finance its deals and, since its owner is the Iranian Civil Pension Fund Investment Company, there might be capital. But without the state’s deep pockets, Iran Aseman operates much more other airlines around the world.
But there is an interesting aspect to this airline. Iranian airlines come with unique challenges because of sanctions. Look at the aircraft listed as leased. Here are the lessors and the information we found on them.
- Khors Air – based in Ukraine. The company’s links to Iran have attracted the wrong kind of attention.
- Aircraft Trading & Financing B.V. – was located in The Netherlands and is reported as closed.
- Aircraft International Renting Ltd. – is based in Ireland and has a fax number but no phone number.
- ALTIS – was also based in Ireland and now is listed as dissolved.
- SairGroup AG – is a private company based in Switzerland.
As sanctions are eased, the airline’s fleet should become more current and transparent. The Aseman deliveries are supposed to start in 2022. Boeing negotiated the MOA with authorization from the U.S. government following a determination that Iran has met its obligations under the nuclear deal signed in 2015. Boeing has to work with the Office of Foreign Assets Control for approval to perform this transaction. Aseman has time to work on capital acquisition while Boeing clears the US hurdles. Certainly, the airline’s re-fleet needs are significant. It is interesting the deal was not done though any lessor.