IranAir Plans New Int’l Routes as ATR Fleet Expands

IranAir eyes to expand its international services within the region as it plans to take delivery of a fifth and sixth ATR 72-600, both currently being prepared in France.

After initial difficulties with ATR’s engine manufacturer, IranAir cleared the way to receive the first batch of four aircraft in May 2017. With four aircraft delivered and two more planned for late-September or early-October, the airline will have a fleet of six ATRs, with roughly two months left of 2017. In a previous report, IranAir’s former Chairman and Managing Director projected a fleet of totally nine ATRs by the end of the year. Although in a more recent report by the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, the airline expects two to four more ATRs until March 2018, IranAir’s newly appointed chief executive Farzaneh Sharafbafi said as quoted. That is to say, if IranAir’s projected objective of nine ATR aircraft by the end of 2017 is not reached, it should probably be the case by at latest March 2018.

The current four ATRs have for the most part yet been deployed on shorter domestic routes and unveiled new destinations such as Dezful, Ramsar and Nowshahr.

IranAir’s first four ATR 72-600s lined up.

IranAir’s intent with the new ATR fleet has been clear since the beginning; increasing the connectivity to smaller Iranian cities. In an interview with Reuters in May 2017, Mr Parvaresh told that the primary aim is “to cover a populous arc in Iran’s northwest and northeast” and to “connect the small cities to the mega cities”. As the new two new aircraft will add 50% more capacity to the ATR fleet, the airline is examining potential regional routes between Iran’s border provinces and neighbouring countries. A few examples of the new services announced to be considered are Lar – Dubai; Lar – Doha; Rasht – Baku; Kish – Dubai; Ardabil – Van; Ardabil – Baku and Tabriz – Baku.

Five financing offers from China, Norway and some other European countries are slated to be made to IranAir ahead of mid-September 2017. The offers concern the financing of a package of seven aircraft, a method that Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, DM of Roads and Urban Development, insists leads to better terms. If the first package proves to be successful, the airline will arrange future financing deals in an equivalent way. ATR should also have made an offer, according to a report by IRNA published in August 2017.

Photo: ATR