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Iran Air shifting away from Boeing

Middle East Economic Digest
June 4, 1999

The Iranian aviation industry is on the verge of a long-term shift away from US to European aircraft. If national carrier Iran Air succeeds in its plans, the European consortium Airbus Industrie could receive orders for more than 20 aircraft in the coming years. Iran has found it impossible to renew its US-made fleet of Boeings since the 1979 revolution and the main operator, Iran Air, has had frequent problems even obtaining spare parts.

Sources in Tehran say Iran Air plans to purchase 28 Airbus aircraft. Although there is no confirmation of this, the airline's announcement in May that it has received government approval to purchase four Airbus aircraft may signal that it has either given up on the US or is trying to tell Washington it is about to lose one of its better potential customers.

The four Airbuses would raise the airline's Airbus fleet to 11, including five acquired before 1979. Together with six Fokkers bought in the 1990s, Iran Air's existing fleet of 32 would be roughly divided equally between US and non-US planes. Airbus Industrie has had no comment on Iran Air's announcement.


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