The state of Iran
has officially announced that it has placed a US$ 25 billion order with Airbus
+ ATR for the supply of 158 aircraft to completely replace Iran Air's aging
fleet of 44 aircraft. The breakdown is as follows:
21 A320CEO family line of aircraft
24 A320NEO family line of aircraft
40 ATR 72-600s
This was arguably the most anticipated order
in commercial aviation for years as many pundits were speculating countless
times what will IR end up ordering once all sanctions are lifted. Just like the
below analysis on Gulf Air (scroll down) this order too has many positives and
negatives hence shall be looked at in an objective manner.
Ordering the A350-1000 and A320NEO family
line of aircraft
Ordering the ATR 72-600s for domestic flying
rather than DH4 as the AT7s are cheaper to purchase and operate on flights
under 1 hour 15 minutes in stage length
· It is expected that many A321NEOs will be
ordered from A320NEO family order as this aircraft is ideally suited to operate
to popular Iranian emigrant cities in Western Europe year round rather than a
more expensive wide body. Cities that are perfect for A321NEO service (3-4)
times per week are IKA-DUS, IKA-HAM, IKA-ARN, IKA-MAN, IKA-OSL, IKA-FCO,
IKA-CPH and IKA-MUC.
· The A321 is also perfectly suited for the
high demand Shia pilgrim season with the main destinations being BAH, DMM, KWI,
DXB and KHI.
· The desire to make IKA airport similar to
AUH/DXB/DOH as the government wants to make it a key transfer hub connecting
Europe to Asia especially Central Asia via IKA.
Ordering the A380 purely out of prestige and
a good discounted offer provided by Airbus without looking into the actual
commercial requirement of it
Ordering the A330-900 which is not required
Too many fleet types (5) i.e. AT7s + A320s +
A330s + A350s + A380s
Current fleet of Iran Air is only 44 aircraft
where as Mahan Air is 57. If this order was exclusively for IR then there are grand
expansion plans put in place which are realistically not commercially viable to
achieve even by 2022 due to the rapid scale of expected growth in an uncertain
Reduce fleet types from 5 to 3 which in turn
helps reduce overall costs across the board
Fleet types should revolve around AT7 + A320
+ A350 family line of aircraft only
The A359 should have been ordered rather than
A339 as the A359 offers the same capacity but more flying range and better
operating economics. A bunch load of A332s only should have been ordered as a
dry leased aircraft for “bridging purposes”.
Wide body fleet should have revolved
exclusively around the A350 family i.e. A359 + A351. The A359 can easily fly
IKA-LAX nonstop where as the A351 can do IKA-JFK/YYZ nonstop without any
The A350 helps build up the route on a
frequency based level which is more required to be competitive versus
TK/LH/QR/EK/EY rather than capacity based with expensive A380s which will never
be filled on a year round basis on any route even at 70% SF!
Future fleet (exclusively meant for Iran Air
only) should have looked like this if it was an all Airbus/ATR order:
i. 20 AT7s
for domestic secondary cities operations
total 80 airplanes should have been ordered (not 158 which were ordered) with
IKA being the major hub and MHD + SYZ acting as secondary hubs.
A350s should be configured in a dual class layout like the current A300s/B747s
are presently in IR’s fleet. A maximum of 30 business class flat bed seats
should be in the premium cabin and not more.
order to grow the infrastructure of the country’s various industries, the state
of Iran needs a viable freighter carrier too importing and exporting goods/raw
materials hence it was surprising to note no freighter was ordered. Ideally an
order for 5 A330-200Fs should have been placed to cater for this soon to be
booming market segment.
Since many would ask what would have been the
perfect Iran Air order if all manufacturers could sell aircraft would any
obstacles, then my recommendation would have been as follows:
25 Boeing 787-9s exclusively for its wide
body operations. This would seat 30J + 261Y and can easily fly IKA-LAX nonstop
if need be without suffering any payload restrictions.
15 A321NEOs to be in two different
configurations i.e. one for medium haul EU routes with 12J flat beds + 138
economy class (7 units) and another in a regional configuration for high demand
domestic + Middle East/Central Asia/ISC routes with 12J + 168Y.
20 Bombardier C300 series aircraft seating
127 passengers i.e. 12J + 115Y and used for regional/domestic services. Using
this aircraft type is much cheaper than the A320NEO and also offers the right
20 ATR 72-600Ts for secondary city flying
In this manner, the order is commercially +
politically balanced out with Airbus, Boeing, ATR and Bombardier kept happy by
being given a fair slice of the cake. If by 2025, demand explodes for IR then
it can consider adding a larger aircraft type.