The aviation phenomenon that gave our generation the freedom from the power of gravity and the ease to wander the globe at will, is about to conclude its first and most fascinating century in history. The journey from the dream of flying to the reality of the design, power, speed and the comfort of the modern aircraft is the enchanting tale of the human intelligence and unimaginable accomplishment. In the past few decades aviation technology has come a long way and has attained a growth so immense that one would wonder what more human beings could be capable of achieving in the next hundred years to come.
The realization of ideas that has advanced air transport to its present prominence is in a large part attributed to two factors: one being man’s old ambition to fly and the other the nations’ needs for superiority in the past two World Wars. In other words, while aviation had an enormous impact on the direction of World War I and II, the wars also had a similar impact on the evolution of aviation. Furthermore, it was the recognition of the important role of air transportation in the world’s economy, its valuable service to the human race, and production of wealth that gave aviation its existing prominent position and created today’s numerous airlines.
Prior to presenting the history of commercial air transportation in Iran, which is the purpose of this article, it may be appropriate to highlight aviation’s most important events in the past one hundred years in chronological order, as a reminder and ready reference.
1903 Wright Brothers performed their first experimental 120- foot 12-second flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
1914 The first scheduled air service operated between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida
1927 First man crossed Atlantic ocean – Charles Lindbergh
1928 First woman crossed Atlantic ocean – Amelia Earhart
1933 DC-3 the most popular aircraft in the history made its first flight
1940 The first pressurized aircraft was introduced by Boeing
1959 The first jet aircraft flight was performed by HS Comet 4C
1969 The first wide-body aircraft, Boeing 747 was introduced
1969 The first supersonic aircraft. Concord (001) performed its maiden flight in Toulouse, France and achieved mach 1. It reached Mach 2 the following year. Note: earlier supersonic was the USSR Tu 144 which reached Mach 2 in 1968, but unfortunately this aircraft crashed at the Paris Air Show in 1973 and was gradually removed from service until 1985)
1978 The U.S. Airlines Deregulation Act 1978 was introduced
1997 The longest non-stop flight in aviation history was performed by a Boeing 777-200 between Seattle, Washington and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on April 2nd. This flight of 12,445.32 statute miles (20,044km) took in 21 hours and 23 minutes. The airplane was pained with Malaysian Airlines livery.
The early years
Iran’s 70-year air transportation history consists of five periods. The early take-off of 1927; the twelve years interval of 1932-1944 about which no information could be traced; the modest yet gratifying Iranian Airways time; the Iran Air exciting ascend to the significant glories of ’60s and ’70s and finally Iran Air beyond 1979 that will be only briefly touched in this article.
The Iranian commercial aviation came into existence in 1927 when, for the first time, a limited number of air services were introduced on specific routes within Iran. The story goes that in 1927 Junkers (pronounced Yunkers) a leading German aviation company and the manufacturer of famous Junkers aircraft became interested and decided to do business in the new but growing commercial aviation field by setting up an airline with the support of the Iranian government.
At the same time the Iranian Air Force should have had some Junkers F13 aircraft at Ghale-Morghi airfield near Tehran. The availability of these machines and Iranian pilots to fly them encouraged Junkers to make a proposal to the government to obtain permission to operate commercial flights. This project started after the Iranian parliament passed a bill and approved granting a five-year right to Junkers to fly for commercial purposes within Iran, with gradual expansion to other countries in the region.
This small but historical move was in fact the cornerstone of commercial air transportation in Iran. Junkers established and registered a company according to Iranian law and called it ‘Company Havapeimai Yunkers dar Iran’ or Junkers Airline Company in Iran. Under the same arrangement, Junkers was obligated to open a flying school and provide the know-how and necessary facilities to train Iranian pilots.
The Junkers operation, with the cooperation of Iranian ministry of Post and Telegraphs, was intended to carry mail and small parcels and often any civilian passenger who had the heart to ride the new flying machine! The first services were started in two directions. One from Tehran to Bandar Pahlavi (today’s Bandar Anzali) in the north, and the other to Ghasr-Shirin via Hamedan and Kermanshah, in the west. In the postwar years, the 4-seater, one engine airplane, Junkers F13, which could fly at a speed of approximately 150 to 160 kilometers per hour, became popular as a commercial aircraft. This little airline became busier and therefore, its fleet enlarged to include more and larger versions of Junkers.
The northbound route was extended to Baku in Azarbaijan (then part of the USSR) and the westbound route continued to Baghdad. Subsequently, three more routes were added, a southwest route to Bushehr via Isfahan and Shiraz, a northeast to Mashhad and northwest to Tabriz via Ghazvin.
Baku being connected to Moscow and Moscow to mainland Europe, the Tehran Baku flight was in fact Iran’s first air link with Europe because the first European airline, Imperial Airways (the forefather of present British Airways) began operation to Iran in March 1929. Imperial Airways flew to Bushehr and Bandar Lengeh as intermediate points of its Far East route. This was followed by KLM, in September of the same year.
The Junkers aircraft and its frequent flights from Tehran airport had, meanwhile, become a great attraction for Tehranis who were drawn to the airport in large numbers on horseback, bicycle or walking to see the new phenomenon. The Junker era ended in 1932.
The “blank” period
Our information about the period between 1932, when the Junkers operation terminated and 1944, when Iranian Airways was established, is blank. Continued research to shed light on this interval has not, so far, produced any result, however, the lack of evidence can be indicative of the fact that the aviation activities during this period must have been either completely suspended or at least reduced to a minimum.
The Iranian Airways era
Iranian Airways, a schedule airline, was founded in 1944, by a group of Iranian investors. This business project was led by Mr. G.H. Ebtehaj, a famous entrepreneur and the general manager of the company. These businessmen who, with lack of substantial airline experience and government subsidy, risked their personal capital to launch a new business of this magnitude should be given credit for their initiative.
Iranian Airways, commenced operation with its first flight from Tehran to Mashhad, which later turned out to be one of the world’s busiest routes. What’s interesting about this route is that regardless of the season, the time of the day and frequency of flights, seats are always scarce due to the constant demand from visitors to Imam Reza’s shrine.
In the aviation industry it is normal practice for the leading airlines, with more years of operation, to share their experience and expertise with new companies, either through long-term partnership or as one-shot deal for a certain period of time. Based on the same philosophy, you would see that in different points of time, Western airlines have been somehow involved with Iranian carriers.
During the early years of Iranian Airways, Trans World Airlines (TWA), a leading international airline bought 10% of Iranian Airways and won a contract for cooperation and provision of management and operational support. TWA had a similar agreement with a few airlines in other countries. TWA contributed greatly to the company’s technical improvement as well as its expansion on international routes. Subsequent to starting the internal flights, Iranian Airways introduced its first international flight to Paris via Beirut and Athens and opened its first office outside Iran in Paris. At this time, the company had approximately 400 personnel and a considerably large fleet of DC-3 aircraft.
Under Ebtehaj’s management and following the TWA agreement in 1949, a French aviation company joined the airline to provide technical support.
In 1949, Reza Afshar took over 70% of Iranian Airways ownership and became the company’s new managing director. Somehow, among the first actions he took in relation to the company’s reorganization was to cancel the French contract. Reza Afshar, once Reza Shah’s minister of road, a writer, and poet, was a shrewd businessman. In his youth, he was a member of the first group of fifty or so Iranian students who qualified for the government’s scholarship to continue their education in the U.S.
According to witnesses, the new management took a more serious position towards the company’s overall performance and therefore the changes were quite visible.
Generally speaking, due to a lack of many fundamental elements, which nowadays are taken for granted, running an airline at that time was much more difficult than even few years later. For example, cross-country communications was virtually nonexistent. Virtually, the only and fastest means of communication between Tehran and other cities were messages transmitted with the primitive Morse code. The government’s Civil Aviation Department sent Morse messages for the airline, as a matter of cooperation and courtesy. In some cases the flights’ departure messages from Tehran were received by stations 24 hours after the same flight had already returned back to Tehran.
To hear all sorts of intriguing stories in relation to running the airline in the old days, one must listen for hours to Ali Boubari. Well known to most people related to Iranian aviation, Boubari joined Iranian Airways in 1946 and until a few years ago served in different managerial positions in the Iranian airline industry. He made great contributions to both Iranian Airways and later Iran Air.
In 1953 one of the less known American carriers, Trans Ocean Airlines leased two Convair aircraft to Iranian Airways. As a part of its agreement Trans Ocean also provided wide assistance in different fields such as operations, maintenance, sales, administration and finance. Following the Convairs, Iranian Airways either leased or purchased Skymasters, DC-4s, DC-6s and finally in 1959, three turboprops, the most modern aircraft of its time, called Vickers Viscounts were added to the fleet. Trans Ocean contract was terminated around the end of 1961.
Only a few years after Iranian Airways had started, a young intellectual man, who later became the icon of Iranian commercial aviation, made his debut. Not long after he joined the airline, Houshang Tajadod became the second strongman in Iranian Airways. From then on he was the industry’s living legend who, uninterruptedly, was the key member of top management in Iranian Airways as well as Iran Air before and after 1979. Tajadod is undoubtedly the most experienced, popular and respected member of the country’s airline business.
Iranian Airways provided internal services to 16 cities in Iran as well as regional services to countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and some of the Persian Gulf states. All Iranian Airways ticket offices in Iran and abroad were run and managed by general sales agents (GSAs). In Iran, IRANTOUR had the exclusive general sales agency for all cities, including Tehran. However, gradually Abadan, Shiraz and Isfahan offices were taken over by the company’s own managers, appointed from the Tehran head office. At the beginning, the Abadan office, for some time was managed by Trans Ocean staff. The first Iranian area manager appointed to long-term assignments outside Tehran was Mohammad Zarin Nejad, an airline veteran, who was assigned as manager for Shiraz and then Abadan before being transferred to an international office.
A second airline, Persian Air Services, smaller in size than Iranian Airways, was established in 1952. The founder, Ahmad Shafiq, was originally an Egyptian businessman, who had been living in Iran for a long time. At the beginning, by receiving technical support from a British aviation company called Skyways, Persian Air Services operated a European cargo service from Tehran via Abadan to Beirut, Brindisi and Basle. PAS, later became associated with SABENA, the Belgian national airline. SABENA leased DC-7C aircraft to PAS which enabled the company to provide direct passenger service to Geneva, Paris, Brussels and London.
For a short period of time in 1961, just before the formation of Iranian National Airlines, Iranian Airways and Persian Air Services merged to make United Iranian Airlines. The new airline’s managing director was Dr. Ighani. The short-lived merger proved to be more of a formality than a practical step.
Iran Air: The dream airline
In early 1962, the government decided to nationalize the commercial air transportation industry in Iran. The person commissioned to carry out this assignment was Lieutenant General Ali Mohammad Khademi, who as the Iranian Air Force Chief of Staff had made a reputation for having organized a new management concept in this most significant division of the Iranian armed forces. The late Khademi who, as a young air force officer, had occasionally flown as a captain on Iranian Airways aircraft, was not unfamiliar with commercial aviation. In fact, he and an old friend and comrade, a prominent air force officer and the first Iran Air acting managing director, Major General Ali A. Rafat, were the first Iranians to become certified international commercial pilots. It was probably then that Khademi developed his eternal vision and planned building an ultimate flag carrier for Iran.
The new Iran National Airline ‘Havapeimai Melli Iran, Homa’ — internationally known as Iran Air — was founded in 1962. A decree was passed to allow the new company to take over the United Iranian Airlines, by acquiring all of its assets. At the same time the Trans Ocean agreement with Iranian Airways was canceled. To many of the 700 Iranian Airways employees, the government takeover of the company, which later proved to be the turning point in Iranian aviation, did not produce an ambiance for cheers and celebration. Most were under the impression that converting the airline to a government entity would hinder its progress.
Once the takeover was complete, the new company, for the first time, had a clearcut mission and a series of objectives in place to build a modern, world-class national carrier, and it achieved international prestige in relatively a short time. Despite its small size, compared to the world’s mega airlines, Iran Air was soon considered one of the most important players in world aviation. Described as the fastest growing airline in the world at one point, Iran Air was an extremely well-managed national airline. It had around 12,000 skilled personnel, one of the most advanced and well-maintained fleets of all-jet and brand new aircraft in service, while holding an excellent safety record among its prominent worldwide competitors.
Its managing director was elected the president of IATA, the giant regulating body of the international air transport industry. But most importantly, though a government-owned airline, it was a profitable enterprise and its financial self-sufficiency was unprecedented in Iran as well as internationally. In those days, it was quite unusual for an airline to remain profitable for a number of years in a row. Many large and small airlines, with a few exceptions, were in the red, if not on the verge of bankruptcy. However, it’s also fair to admit that while the company did not receive subsidies, it enjoyed certain concessions from the government.
Who was General Khademi?
It would be unfair to try to introduce an exceptional person like Gen. Khademi through anything less than an entire book. The personality and life experiences of Iran Air’s founder were too great to fit in an article or two. He was a gifted, self-made, tireless, hard-working man and a genius in management and leadership. He was an uncompromising fighter with unusual guts and self-confidence, who would not accept anything that was less than perfect. Utterly fair and honest, he possessed a strong humane spirit, an extremely light heart and wonderful sense of humor. He hated favoritism and selected his colleagues on their merit. He gave young men and women, particularly those who were not from or related to the privileged class, unprecedented opportunities for growth.
Obsessed with his dream and charged with infinite passion and stamina, he took over the airline to build a national carrier that every Iranian could be proud of. While the Iran Air success story is attributed to a team of highly dedicated managers and staff, no one can ignore the fact that the history of modern aviation in Iran revolves around one person and that person is Khademi, who among other things, hand-picked and coached a group of capable men and women to run Iran Air.
Khademi was a great man whose name will go down in history for the highest level of service to his country’s aviation industry. Alas, the abrupt eruption of circumstances did not allow him to complete his dreams particularly his 15-year plan to expand Iran Air into one of the world’s leading airlines. And a pity that Homayian, as he used to call the Iran Air family, did not get the chance to give him that magnificent recognition he always deserved, during his life time. May his soul rest in peace.
Problems and priorities
There was great work ahead of the new company. On the one hand, building and running a world-class airline with advanced international standards in the jet age, needed a fast forward attitude, quick decision-making environment and unconditional freedom. On the other hand, the company was now government-owned and would be expected to work within the state framework. Since running an airline business is normally incompatible with the way government organizations work, steps had to be taken to neutralize obstacles and prevent unnecessary interference and influences.
To a great extent, this privilege was intelligently earned. With a couple of exceptions, no one in the country was supposed to, or capable of, interfering in Iran Air’s affairs. Iran Air’s managing director had full authority over the airline. He was, of course, closely working with the Air Force Commander-in-Chief Gen. Mohammad Khatami, who at the outset, was also the chairman of Iran Air’s board of directors. This position was later assumed by Khademi.
Khatami, was a great fan of Iran Air and his personal support proved immensely valuable in achieving Iran Air’s plans. The early success of gaining independence saved the company from all the bureaucratic barricades that could hinder the whole project. This special status also kept Iran Air purely commercial and away from politics.
Iran’s air travel market was very lucrative for the majority of airlines operating to Iran. In the absence of a strong Iranian national carrier, foreign airlines exploited the market as much as they could. This situation meant that these airlines, having been accustomed to do as they like, would now make it very tough for Iran Air to enter the market. To be able to exercise its full legitimate rights, it would be necessary for Iran Air to hold a series of hectic meetings with one foreign government after another.
The aim was to review and amend the so-called bilateral agreements, which in practical terms were unilateral agreements, mostly years old and in many cases signed by people who never imagined Iran would, in a hundred years, have an airline capable of operating on an international scale. Week-long meetings involved heated arguments and sometimes threats to suspend the operations. Obviously the other parties did not like the changes demanded by the Iranian delegation, mostly led by Khademi himself. In these negotiations, the important role of Houshang Khalili, the director of Iran Air’s international legal affairs, and one of only two Iranians specialized in international aviation law, must be praised.
Iran Air’s highest priority of all was given to passenger and crew safety. A survey that is explained below put Iran Air among the world’s safest airlines.
On March 3, 1974 the first ever wide-body aircraft, a Turkish Airline DC-10, tragically crashed in the forest of Ermenonville, near Paris. As a result of this unfortunate incident a total of 346 passengers and crew died. After two years of research, an investigative book called “Destination Disaster”, very critical of airline safety levels, written by three British journalist; Paul Eddy, Elaine Potter and Bruce Page, was published by New York Times Book Co. The writers made a complete inquiry into the safety of individual airlines. They conducted numerous interviews, investigated almost every airline, analyzed their statistics and made a number of tables and compared the safety standard of small and large airlines.
Following is what they had wrote about Iran Air: “As only a small amount of investigation will reveal, there are very safe airlines and not so safe airlines. That is to say, there are airlines that have the means and the ability to transport their passengers in conditions of great safety: Delta and American Airlines in the United States; the Scandinavian air-line, SAS, the Portuguese airline, TAP, Qantas and TAA of Australia, Japan Airlines and Iran Air are some of those that deserve special appreciation.”
They also wrote: “The airlines are aware of the disparities and so too are aviation experts like Peter Martin, who is an English lawyer, a partner in the distinguished firm of Beaumont & Sons, which among other matters represents airlines that have obtained insurance coverage for their companies from Lloyd’s of London. In times of trouble Martin acts as a negotiator between the relatives of people killed in an air crash and the airline or Lloyd’s. His clients include Turkish Airlines, and in the early part of 1975, we visited him to discuss the aftermath of the Paris crash. During the course of the interview Martin–who is naturally very knowledgeable about airlines–said: ‘There are airlines [as an example he named Iran Air] that I fly with happily. There are other airlines that I would not fly with if I was paid in heavy gold.”
In tables towards the end of the book, airlines have been classified in six groups, from the safest to the least safe. A note about this table says: “Inevitably, there are anomalies and some carriers have been categorized more harshly than they deserve if judged solely on their more recent records. Those airlines which had as of December 31, 1975, been accident-free for at least ten consecutive years are indicated by an *…” Iran Air is in the first of six groups of airlines and is marked by an *, with TAP, Qantas and Continental.
This highly valuable reputation which, at the same time, produced a couple of prestigious awards and certificates for Iran Air, was owed to the company’s overall concern for safety, the endless effort of highly-educated and talented Iranian engineers like Ahmad Nazemi, the head of Iran Air’s impeccable maintenance and engineering division, as well as a group of distinct, highly qualified and competent pilots as well as other devoted members of flight operations like late Jamshid Azarbeigi.
The other important objective was making international air travel affordable and accessible for all Iranians regardless of their class or income. The purpose was two-folds. One was its educational aspect, or in other words, getting as many people as possible acquainted with the culture and social progress of the rest of the world. The other objective was to give the new company a boost by penetrating untapped markets. To fulfill this objective, a very clever technique was employed. Despite its restrictive regulations, the international aviation agency, IATA, had issued a resolution giving governments the right to allow their national carrier to provide a free or discounted pass to anyone the government names.
Iran Air asked the Iranian government to use this resolution and issue a standing order to Iran Air to provide government employees, their family members and relatives a 40% discount on full air fares on Iran Air’s international flights. Prior to that, air travel abroad was limited to a group of affluent people. Had air fares not been almost halved, low income teachers, for instance, could not travel to Europe. The resulting massive increase in travelers produced a new market and considerable source of much-needed revenue.
Another important objective was, the modernization of the fleet. In this case transition from propeller to jetliner, was a long-term, very complicated process which involved advance preparation and a series of important steps. The first delicate and complex move was deciding the aircraft manufacturer or manufacturers, the airplane types and finally the engine manufacturer.
The mixed equipment concept, i.e. buying both McDonnell Douglas and Boeing aircraft, was immediately eliminated. Operating different airplanes built by diverse manufacturers would be a nightmare in terms of operation, maintenance and supply. Following a thorough study and investigation, the management decided to go for the Boeings with Pratt & Witney engines. A decision that for many reasons, turned out to be absolutely correct. The next smart concept was to lease one B727-100 aircraft from Boeing until aircraft ordered by Iran Air were ready. This initiative put the company in jet operation without any delay.
Entering into jet operations calls for certain expertise that can be only acquired through experience. The fastest and most economical way to obtain this know-how is to get temporary use of experts from another airline. At the time Pan Am, because of its long experience in operating Boeing jetliners, was the best choice to assist Iran Air during its transition. Approximately 10 specialists from Pan Am were assigned for about two to four years and then gradually released after it was made certain that their expertise was adequately transferred to their Iranian replacement.
During the one-year lease period, Iran Air served a wide schedule with only one aircraft. It was a difficult task; there were two to three weekly flights to Istanbul, Rome, Geneva, Frankfurt, Paris and London. Also there were flights to Karachi and Bombay as well as a few flights to the Persian Gulf states.
Gradually, Iran Air’s own aircraft arrived. The family of Boeing included: the short-range Boeing 737, the smallest of all. Trimotor B727-100 and B727-200 were for short to medium- range flights, semi-long range flights were with B707, B747-100 and B747-SP (special performance) aircraft. The latter was the newest version of B747, which, at that time, only a handful of airlines owned. This jetliner was capable of flying, at an altitude of 44,000 feet and travel long distances, such as Tehran-New York, non-stop.
Later, with the arrival of six Airbuses, the Iran Air fleet grew to 35 all jet aircraft. At this stage the company carried close to five million passengers a year.
The Concord deal
On two occasions Iran Air became the focus of great international attention. In the early ’70s, when supersonic flight was a hot subject, the British and the French had announced their plan to go ahead with the production of the Concord. Suddenly one day the front page of many leading newspapers, particularly in Britain and France, were covered with news about Iran Air’s intention to purchase Concords. The other big news story was in October 1972 when Iran Air placed a preliminary purchase order for two Concords with the option for a third.
The fact is that many members of Iran Air’s management believed that the Concord was not a commercially viable aircraft and were not optimistic about its future. The Concord purchase order was canceled by Houshang Tajadod, Iran Air’s first post-revolution managing director.
In line with aircraft deliveries, flight route and frequency expansion plans were implemented. Everything was ready for an aggressive service expansion: thousands of qualified staff, fully computerized reservation system, modern fleet, capable crew, excellent engineering and maintenance team, exquisite in-flight service as well as an overall efficient management and administration system.
After Europe which, by now, was sufficiently covered by Iran Air flights, the U.S. services had priority. Preliminary planning and preparation for the U.S. operation had already started and was well under way from 1970, when one of the company’s smart, energetic, and capable young men, Guiv Vaziri, was assigned as Iran Air’s U.S. general manager.
For a few years the U.S. head office in New York was working actively towards the opening of Iran Air services. At the same time during these years, it provided a valuable service to Iranian students in the U.S. Every summer thousands of Iranian students were transported by Iran Air, to and from Tehran with unbelievably low air fares. In 1975 everything was ready to begin flights to New York to be followed by flights to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Iran Air offices in three more major cities, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago, were opened. On May 15, 1975, Iran Air’s first flight from Tehran (via London) landed at New York Kennedy airport, amid a colorful ceremony. The flights continued until 1979.
On November 4, 1979, Iran Air airport services manager in New York, in spite of his knowledge of the U.S. embassy staff being taken hostage in Tehran, proceeded to JFK to prepare for the flight arrival from Tehran. He found the situation to be unusual and the airport’s American staff had told him that they would refuse to carry out normal services to the Iran Air B747, due to land that evening. Realizing that the aircraft may remain on the ground at JFK permanently, the airport services manager in New York thought of diverting the flight to another airport outside the U.S. After consulting with the head office in Tehran, he contacted the captain and asked him to land at Montreal airport. The inbound and outbound passengers were transferred by other carriers to and from New York.
Meanwhile Far East flights to Beijing and Tokyo started and offices in Bangkok, Manila and Singapore were opened to prepare for the establishment of future services. A few more points in the Persian Gulf, Middle East and Europe were added to the existing destinations. Operation of more long range flights to Africa, Australia and South America and replacing the older aircraft and many other new concepts were part of the Iran Air 15-year plan.
In November 1978, Gen. Khademi, after 18 years of service, announced his resignation as the chairman of the board and managing director of Iran Air. Within a week, the new managing director, a retired air force major general, Assadollah Amir-fazli, arrived from London where he was spending his retirement. From the impressions he made in his first meeting with senior management and his hasty decisions in the following days, Amir-fazli demonstrated his lack of management skills and qualifications for the position. Due to political unrest and labor strikes in the following two months, his time in the office was short-lived. In February 1979, just a few days after the revolution, Houshang Tajadod was appointed managing director of Iran Air. But it did not take long before he offered his resignation. He was succeeded by Ghasem Shakibnia, who was deputy minister of Post, Telephone and Telegraph in the previous government. In about four months time, he also resigned to be replaced once more, by another Iran Air veteran, Cyrus Chaichian.
As the company’s deputy managing director for commercial affairs, Chaichian was among the younger but mature generation of Iran Air managers who was fit for the leading role. He was well versed with modern management methods and had considerable international airline experience. He also resigned in his fourth month and returned to his original position for a short time before being removed from the company by his own successor. All the above mentioned gentlemen were capable of leading the company in the right direction. However, the prevailing circumstances had made it difficult for any of the experienced, top-ranked managers to work properly. From mid 1980 onward, different individuals from outside the company were assigned as managing directors.
The history of Iran Air is discontinued here for two reasons. First, because the writer’s information about Iran Air, since his departure from the airline in early 1980, is insufficient. Secondly, I believe judgment about the new chapter in the life of Iran Air, once the pride of Iranians, should be left to the people of Iran.
Cover photo: Mehrabad Airport Tehran, Iran in the 1960s.