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EghtesadOnline: A glance at unused capacities of Iranian airports reveals that the share of air transportation can reach 40-45 million passengers per year with the renewal of the country's short-, medium- and long-range fleet.

At present, the figure stands at about 35.7 million passengers per annum, Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.

As of last Iranian year (March 20, 2019), 137 airplanes were operating in the country. To make the full use of airport capacities, the number of airplanes should increase to 250-270. 

Iran has a total of 306 passenger aircraft, 169 of which are inactive, according to Financial Tribune.

According to the report, Iran’s air fleet needs to prioritize the procurement of short-range planes.

Experts say at least 40 aging airplanes need to be scrapped and replaced with new aircraft.

Aviation industry players believe sanctions are the main reason behind Iran's inability to renovate its aging air fleet. 

The average age of Iran’s air fleet decreased by 3.5 years to 21.5 years after Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with world powers to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

Global figures suggest the ideal average age of air fleet normally stands at up to 10 years for advanced countries and up to 15 years for developing countries.

The nuclear deal paved the way for Iranian flag carrier Iran Air to renew its aging fleet.

The airline 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 the components of the aircraft are US-made. This is also the case with any other planemaker.

An Airbus A321, two Airbus A330s and 13 ATR 72-600 turboprops, five of which were delivered hours before the reimposition of the first batch of sanctions in August have been delivered to Iran as part of the contracts. The rest of the 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.

The new planes led to an increase in the share of air transportation from 9% in the fiscal March 2013-14 to 14.5% last year (March 2018-19). 



5% Decline in Airport Traffic 

Latest data show Iran Airports Company registered 34,065 takeoffs and landings during the fourth month of the current Iranian year (June 22-July 22), which shows a 5% decrease compared with the similar period of last year.

A total of 4.19 million passengers and 42,359 tons of cargos were transported during the period, indicating a 6% and 4% decline in passenger transport and cargo respectively year-on-year.

The latest IAC report shows 27,928 takeoffs and landings were made by domestic flights during the one-month period, down 5% compared with the similar period of last year.

More than 3.2 million passengers and 23,158 tons of cargo were transported domestically, indicating a 6% and 5% decrease in passenger and cargo transportation respectively YOY.

On the international front, 6,137 takeoffs and landings were registered, down by 5% YOY. A total of 997,053 passengers and more than 19,200 tons of cargo were transported to and from overseas destinations, down 5% and 2% respectively compared with the corresponding period of last year.

Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport was the busiest Iranian airport during the one-month period, with 10,305 takeoffs and landings, registering a 2% decline.

Close to 1.19 million passengers as well as 7,884 tons of cargo were handled at this airport, posting no change in passenger transport and a 2% rise in cargo transport YOY.

Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport ranked ninth from among 50 leading airports of 26 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2018. 

A total of 129,292 takeoffs and landings were registered at Mehrabad International Airport in 2018 to make it the ninth busiest in MENA in terms of flight operations, Iran Airports Company reported, citing France’s Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC). 

Takeoffs and landings at Mashhad International Airport stood at 63,021 to rank 27th in the MENA region in 2018. 

With 15,170,243 travelers passing through its terminals in 2018, Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport ranked 11th in terms of passenger traffic in the region. 

After Mehrabad, Mashhad International Airport was the second busiest airport with 6,231 takeoffs and landings, indicating a 22% increase. It transported 900,979 passengers and 7,790 tons of cargos, indicating a 20% and 30% rise respectively year-on-year.

According to ENAC, takeoffs and landings at Mashhad International Airport stood at 63,021 to rank 27th in the MENA region in 2018. 

Mashhad International Airport was ranked 18th in passenger traffic with 9,081,402.

A total of 87,333 tons of cargo were handled in Mashhad Airport.

In terms of cargo operations, Mashhad Airport ranked 21st among airports of the MENA region. 

Imam Khomeini International Airport registered 3,886 takeoffs and landings to register a 10% increase, while transporting 669,296 passengers and 12,948 tons of cargos to be ranked third on the list of Iran’s busiest airports. The figures show an 18% and 19% rise respectively YOY.

IKIA was ranked 29th in MENA with 50,352 takeoffs and landings in 2018. It ranked 16th in terms of cargo operations with 145,425 tons of goods and parcels. 

Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport has the biggest share of international flights operated in Iran. It has been distinguished as the third fastest-growing major airport in the world. 

A study by Routes Online shows the airport grew in terms of passenger numbers by 48.6% during the first half of 2018 to 3.93 million, helped by Ata Airlines, following the rise in frequencies to Istanbul Ataturk.

Operated by Iran Airports Company, IKIA is located 30 kilometers southwest of Iran's capital city Tehran.

IKIA's newly-inaugurated Salaam Terminal has a capacity to transport five million passengers per year, increasing IKIA's overall capacity by 80%. It was officially inaugurated last month in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani and Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami. 

Iran Airports Company is an arm of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, which manages 54 airports across the country.


Fleet Iran Air Transport Capacity airports Sector unused capacities air transportation