IranAir Proposes New ATR Bases; Eyes Budapest Flights

Iran’s national carrier, IranAir, expects to add, resume and increase frequencies to various destinations. Whilst most of the aircraft thus far delivered fly abroad, the airline seeks to increase domestic flights with its new ATR fleet. In late-April 2017, IranAir’s CEO and Chairman announced that four ATR 72-600s will arrive at Tehran-Mehrabad Airport shortly. The very first delivery will be possible after 13 April 2017.

ATR 72-600 is a turboprop aircraft with about 70 seats, capable of short-haul flights. IranAir’s agreement with ATR, signed in April 2017, includes an order for 20 aircraft plus 20 options. The new short-haul regional airliners have the potential to boost Iran’s regional air connectivity and revive smaller airports.

Currently, 80% of Iran’s total air traffic is handled by only 9 out of the country’s 60 airports. Accordingly, one of the most important tasks is to set up a short-haul fleet aimed at expanding people’s access to air services, increasing regional traffic, Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said.

Reported last year, IranAir selected Arak Airport as one of its new ATR 72-600 bases. In 2016, the airport handled a total of 13,185 passengers and 164 aircraft movements. The new based aircraft will result in new routes from Arak to Tehran, Ahvaz and in the future to Shiraz, Northern Iran and the Azerbaijan Provinces. It is specifically these types of airports that IranAir’s ATR 72-600 fleet focus on.

In April 2017, the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development announced that the ATR aircraft also will enable smaller airports, in this case, Jahrom Airport, to resume operations.

This week, Hamedan Airport and Kermanshah Airport officially announced IranAir’s interest to base ATR aircraft at their respective airports. With reference to Kermanshah Airport, IranAir plans to base one or two ATR 72-600 at the airport with possible new services to Tehran, Ahvaz, Najaf and Erbil. Kermanshah Airport handles some 120 weekly flights, operated by seven airlines to seven domestic destinations. In Hamedan’s situation, the national carrier plans to operate flights to Tehran, Ahvaz and Shiraz. Hamedan Airport handles four weekly flights to Mashhad and Kish Island. The information provided by the airports remain tentative until a final decision has been announced.

On an international level, IranAir plans to resume a number of routes as new aircraft, at the moment only Airbus, are added to the fleet. The first cities most likely to witness resumed IranAir services are Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, both preliminary planned for early-June 2017. Last week, IranAir and Iranian authorities held a meeting with Hungarian counterparts and airport officials in Hungary regarding a possible launch of Tehran – Budapest flights. In an interview with IRNA, IranAir’s CEO and Chairman Farhad Parvaresh confirms that Budapest is in the airline’s expansion plans for Europe. Iran’s Ambassador to Hungary, Gholamali Rajabi Yazdi, expressed his positive view of the new route saying it will promote relations between the two countries in cultural, economic and political fields. The Iranian delegation also paid a visit to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. Three years ago, there were talks about establishing flights between Tehran and Budapest, however, it resulted in no connection.

In March 2017, IranAir’s CEO announced their plans to take delivery of four Airbus A320s in 2017 and five Airbus A321s in 2018.


Photo: Foad Ashtari, Tasnim News Agency