EghtesadOnline: A new chief executive has been appointed to manage Iran's flag carrier airline Iran Air, formerly known as Homa.
Touraj Dehqani Zanganeh replaces Farzaneh Sharafbafi, Iran Air’s first female chief executive officer since late 2017.
The new CEO was named in a Sunday Cabinet meeting chaired by President Hassan Rouhani, IRNA reported.
No reason has been cited for the replacement, according to Financial Tribune.
Dehqani has more than 8,000 hours of flight under his belt, flying Airbus A319, A321, A320 and A340. He previously served as the managing director of privately-owned Meraj Airlines.
The appointee has a master’s degree in management and held managerial positions in the aviation industry, including the management of the Association of Iranian Airlines.
Iran Air, currently the country's biggest airline with 37 active planes (sharing the standing with Mahan Air with the same number of aircraft) having an average age of 17 year, was founded in May 1944 and operated its first passenger flight right after World War II from Tehran to the holy city of Mashhad.
The airline also had weekly freight services to Europe and its fleet consisted of DC-3s, DC-4s and Viscounts. Within 17 years (1945-62), the company developed into a major domestic airline with a few international flights per week. In 1954, a second private airline, Persian Air Services, was established. Initially, it operated only freight services to Europe, but in 1960 it commenced passenger flights to several European destinations using leased equipment.
The geographical situation of Iran with its expanding spacious levels, relative remoteness of crowded areas from each other, lack of adequate means of transportation (railroads and roads) and the need to initiate safe and fast connections, as well as securing more comfort for Iranians led to a ratification by the Council of Ministers to establish a national airline corporation on February 10, 1961.
On Feb. 24, 1961, both Iranian Airways and Pars Airways were merged to form a new airline, Iran Air, a griffin of Persian mythology, which symbolizes the mythical Bird of Happiness.
Iran Air, the first airline to order and operate Boeing 747SP in the world with the mission of obviating domestic air transportation needs accompanied by observing safety principles and forming transportation services with neighboring countries, officially commenced its activities in April 1962.
By the late 1970s, Iran Air was the fastest growing airline in the world and one of the most profitable. By 1976, Iran Air was ranked second only to Qantas, as the world’s safest airline, having been accident free for at least 10 consecutive years. Although both airlines were accident free, Iran Air came second only because of fewer operational hours flown compared to Qantas.
After the Islamic Revolution, as a result of economic sanctions against Iran by the United States, Iran Air was unable to expand or replace its fleet.
The prolonged period of time that Iran Air was under international sanctions and barred from purchasing spare parts and new planes led to a dramatic rise in its average fleet age and a decline in safety record.
The imposition of international sanctions over Iran's nuclear program exacerbated the situation for the flag carrier.
However, the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015, which led to the removal of international nuclear sanctions against Tehran, paved the way for Iran Air to renew its aging fleet.
The flag carrier secured massive orders from giant plane manufacturers after the conclusion of the nuclear deal. Its orders included 100 Airbus, 80 Boeing and 20 ATR passenger planes, with an aggregate value of $20-30 billion.
Later, as the US reimposed unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic, the delivery process of the orders placed by Iran Air came to a halt after the US Treasury Department revoked the licenses of Boeing and France’s Airbus to sell commercial planes to Iran Air.
Although Airbus is based in France, it must have the approval of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to sell planes to Iran because at least 10% of its components are made in USA. This is also the case with many other planemakers.
An Airbus A321, two Airbus A330s and 13 ATR 72-600 turboprops, five of which were delivered hours before the first reimposition of the first batch of sanctions in August have been delivered to Iran as part of the contracts.
The remaining orders have been cancelled, as OFAC revoked previously issued licenses allowing the sales of brand-new airplanes to Iran. This is while selling airplanes to Iran was among the issues directly addressed in the nuclear agreement.