Iran Air

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Iran Air
هواپیمايی جمهوری اسلامی ایران
Iran Air logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1944 as Iranian Airways Company [1]
Commenced operations 1961 as Iran Air[2][3][4]
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program SkyGift
Subsidiaries Iran Air Cargo
Fleet size 25
Destinations 58
Company slogan Our Mission Is Your Safety
Parent company Social Security Organization (55%)[5]
Headquarters Mehrabad Airport, Tehran, Iran
Key people Farhad Parvaresh, Chairman & CEO
Revenue Increase US$329.74 million (2013)[6]
Employees 10,696 (2013)

Iran Air, branded as The Airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: هواپیمايی جمهوری اسلامی ایران‎‎ Havâpeymâyiye Jomhuriye Eslâmiye Irân), is the flag carrier airline of Iran and the oldest airline in the Middle East. Its main bases are the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport for international flights and Tehran Mehrabad Airport for domestic flights .[7] It is headquartered on the grounds of Mehrabad Airport in Tehran. The airline has a subsidiary for cargo services, called Iran Air Cargo, that operates scheduled and charter services. Iran Air transports 6 million passengers annually.[8]

Iran Air is also referred to by its pre-revolution Persian acronym, Homa (Havâpeymâyiye Melliye Irân), which is also the name of a mythical Persian griffin, Homa.



Iranian Airways Douglas DC-3 freighter in 1954

In May 1944 Iranian Airways was founded at the initiative of business leader and politician Reza Afshar, in partnership with Gholam Hossein Ebtehaj. Not long after its formation, Afshar, who had previously formed Iran Tour (the first Iranian travel and tour agency) and Mehrabad Airport, became the sole owner of the private company.[citation needed]

Iranian Airways flew its first passenger flight after World War II from Tehran to Mashhad, followed by Esfahan, Shiraz, Bushehr, and Zahedan. In 1946 the airline established service to Cairo, Baghdad and Tel Aviv, and in April 1947, to Paris. Within a period of 17 years, from 1945 to 1962, the airline developed into a major domestic carrier with a few international flights per week. Operations covered domestic and regional passenger and freight services plus a weekly freight service to Europe. The fleet consisted of Douglas DC-3s initially, supplemented by Douglas DC-4 and Vickers Viscount aircraft later on.[citation needed]

In 1954, the privately owned airline Persian Air Services (PAS) was established by Ahmad Shafiq. PAS initially operated only freight services, followed by passenger operations between Tehran and other major cities in Iran.[citation needed] In 1960, PAS initiated service to several European destinations, including Geneva, Paris, Brussels and London, using Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-7 aircraft leased from Sabena.[9]

On 10 February 1961, the board of ministers ratified a state-sponsored proposal to establish a national airline; Iranian Airways was nationalized the same year.[citation needed]

On 24 February 1962, Iranian Airways and PAS merged to form the Iran National Airlines Corporation (HOMA), known as Iran Air, using the homa bird as a symbol. HOMA was a public sector venture that combined the assets and liabilities of the two predecessor air carriers. Among the aircraft used were Avro Yorks, Douglas DC-3s, Douglas DC-6s and Vickers Viscounts. The carrier became a full member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 1964.[citation needed]


Iran Air Boeing 707–320 at Frankfurt Airport in 1970

In 1965, Iran Air took delivery of its first jet aircraft, the Boeing 747 and the Boeing 727-100, followed by the Boeing 737–200 in 1971, the stretched Boeing 727-200 in 1974 and three variants of Boeing 747 (747-100, −200 and SP), starting in 1978–1979. By the mid-1970s, Iran Air was serving cities in Europe with non-stop and one-stop flights, including over 30 flights a week to London alone.

On 8 October 1972, Iran Air placed an order with British Aircraft Corporation for two Concorde supersonic jets, plus one option. One was leased for a few flights from Tehran to Kish Island, but never appeared in Iran Air Livery. These orders were cancelled in April 1980, in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, rendering Iran Air the last airline to cancel its Concorde orders.

On 29 May 1971, the Tehran to New York City route was inaugurated, using Boeing 707s making a stop-over at London Heathrow Airport. Shortly thereafter, the route was upgraded to a non-stop flight using Boeing 747SPs, making Iran Air the second Middle Eastern carrier (after El Al), to offer non-stop service to New York. With this flight, Iran Air set a new world record in time and distance for a non-stop, scheduled long-haul flight (12 hours and 15 minutes, 9,867 km – 6,131 mi – 5,328 nm). In 1978, the airline acquired six Airbus A300 aircraft for use on its domestic trunk and busy regional routes. By the end of that year, Iran Air was serving 31 international destinations stretching from New York City to Beijing and Tokyo. Plans were made to offer direct services to Los Angeles and to Sydney, for which the airline's long range Boeing 747SP aircraft were ideal. This would have allowed Iran Air to use Tehran as a midway point between East and West, because of its favorable geographical location. Such plans were never realized.

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 ten consecutive years. Although both airlines were accident free, Iran Air came second only because of fewer operational hours flown compared to Qantas. Prior to this ranking, a fatal accident had occurred on 25 December 1952, in which 27 of the 29 passengers on board perished when their Douglas DC-3 crashed on landing.

After the Iranian Revolution[edit]

An Iran Air Boeing 747–200 landing at London Heathrow Airport, England, in 1979
Iran Air Airbus refueling, loading catering and cargo at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport

In the wake of the Iranian Revolution in February 1979, Iran Air began to reorganize its international operations, discontinuing service to a range of foreign destinations. Tehran was designated as the only official gateway to Iran, while Shiraz could be used as an alternate, only in case of operational requirements. All other cities in Iran lost their international status. However, in recent times, many of Iran's major city airports have regained a minor international status. These direct international flights using airports in other major Iranian cities currently serve regional countries. The last departure from New York was on 7 November 1979. The last scheduled flight from Tehran to New York City on 8 November 1979 was diverted at the last minute to Montreal, prompted by an embargo suddenly imposed by the U.S. government following the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran by revolutionary students (Iran hostage crisis). Subsequently, the Boeing 747SPs were used on the airline's European and Asian routes.[citation needed]

After the start of the Iran–Iraq War in September 1980, Iran Air's domestic and international operations were often subject to cancellation and irregularity, in line with the wartime situation. This continued until August 1988, when a cease-fire agreement took effect. Right from the start of the Iran–Iraq War, Abadan, the gateway to Iran's oil-producing region, lost all its air links, because the airport had to be closed.[citation needed]

The year 1981 saw the formal name of the airline changed to "The Airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran". Iran Air carried 1.7 million passengers in that year. In 1990, the first of six Fokker 100 jets was added to the fleet and five more were added later on.[citation needed]

As a result of economic sanctions against Iran, Iran Air was unable to expand or to replace its fleet.[10] In 2001, the airline bought six second-hand Airbus A310 aircraft (five −200 and one −300 series), since U.S. authorities blocked the planned purchase of any new Airbus A330s. In 2005, the carrier bought two used Airbus A300-600s. In the wake of the growing tension between the U.S. and Iranian governments over Iran's nuclear program, the plan to supply Boeing spare parts or aircraft, to upgrade the aging fleet of Iran Air, was blocked by the USA and members of the EU.[citation needed] However a new agreement between Iran and the United States at the end of 2006 allowed an overhaul of Iran Air's fleet.[11]

Refueling issues and EU ban[edit]

On 5 July 2010, an aviation official of Iran accused the U.K., Germany and the United Arab Emirates of refusing to refuel Iranian passenger jets.[12] This move followed unilateral sanctions imposed by the US over the nuclear weapons dispute. Iran Air and Mahan Air both claimed to have been denied refuelling. A spokeswoman for Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) said that a contract was in place to refuel Iranian passenger flights and ADAC would continue to do so. A spokesperson for the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority said that it was the sole decision of independent suppliers if aircraft were to be refuelled or not. Germany's Transport Ministry said the refuelling of Iranian aircraft was not banned under EU or UN sanctions but did not say whether any independent refuellers were denying refuelling.[13] Later in the day, Dubai Airport revealed that it continued to refuel Iranian passengers flights in and out of Dubai.[14] The next day, a spokesperson for Iran said that no such limitation had been imposed.[15]

On 6 July 2010, it was announced that the European Commission would ban all of Iran Air's Airbus A320, Boeing 727 and Boeing 747 fleet from the EU over safety concerns.[16][17] This move came as a major blow to Iran Air, limiting flights to Europe with its own aircraft.

Iran Air Airbus A300B4-605R lands at London Heathrow Airport in 2014

As a result of a move in March 2011, when a majority of airports in the EU refused refuelling services to Iran Air, most of the airline's services from Western Europe to Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport started landing in Belgrade, Serbia in order to refuel. In May that year, Switzerland also announced that it would stop the supply of Iranian airliners on their flights from Geneva. Following three months of refuelling operations, the Belgrade airport authorities gradually suspended the contract with Iran Air.[citation needed]

Since this cessation of the contract, Iran Air aircraft operated technical stops in Minsk, Belarus and Kiev, Ukraine, en route to Tehran, forcing aircraft to make a significant detour from their original flight-path, especially if they were flying from Western Europe airports.[citation needed]

In 2012, the EU re-allowed the refuelling of Iran Air aircraft at secondary European airports such as Ljubljana and Budapest, in an effort to retain the refuelling contracts within the EU, rather than letting them go to Serbia or later Belarus and Ukraine.[18][better source needed]

In January 2012, Iran Air's flights to and from London Heathrow operated with a fuel stop at Manston Airport in Kent. However, the airport announced in December 2011 that this arrangement was to end and it would no longer refuel the company's aircraft. This announcement swiftly followed the closure of Iran's embassy in London as the consequence of the ransacking of the British embassy in Tehran. The airport stressed that it had not breached any trade agreements, as it had no connections with the USA.[19]

Technical stopover of an Iran Air Airbus A300B4-600R for refuelling during a London-Tehran flight, at Milan Malpensa airport.

Until January 2016, Iran Air's flights from Western Europe usually had to make a stopover in Belgrade, Ljubljana and Prague en route to Tehran depending the flight's origin. However, following Iran's implementation of JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) on 16 January 2016 and removal of refueling bans, the airline is now able to refuel at all airports. It has been reported that Iran Air has gradually resumed the refueling in Western Europe, resulting in the resumption of flights to Paris and Rome.[20][21]

Lifting of sanctions[edit]

On Friday 15 January 2016 US president Barack Obama authorized his secretary of state, John Kerry, to lift the sanctions on Iran civil aviation.[22] Following Iran's implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on 16 January 2016, all sanctions on Iran civil aviation were lifted. As the result, Iran is now able to purchase new civil aircraft from any manufacturer as well as refuel its aircraft in Western Europe.[20]

Post sanctions modernization[edit]

On 24 January 2016 Tehran hosted the CAPA Iran Aviation Summit organised by CAPA - Centre for Aviation in order to bring both Iranian and international aviation authorities together for considering development plans for Iran's aviation industry. CAPA put the size of Iran's economy somewhere between those of Turkey and Australia, whose commercial airline fleets are in the order of 500-600 aircraft.[23] It was estimated that Iran would increase its airliner fleet by some 300 to 500 aircraft within the next five to ten years and Iran Air's share to be in the order of 300-400 jets.[citation needed] Bombardier presented its regional models during the CAPA summit in Tehran. [24] In a statement, Iran Air's CEO Farhad Parvaresh announced that his airline expected to spend some 3-5 billion US dollars purchasing regional aircraft from manufacturers Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer.[24]


Main article: Iran Air destinations

Pilgrims and Hajj[edit]

Until 2016, Hajj charter operations formed a major part of Iran Air's annual activities. Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims flew from major cities in Iran to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia's air gateway to Mecca, to take part in pilgrimage ceremonies. In 2016, due to escalating tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, all Hajj flights from Iran were suspended indefinitely.[25]

Codeshare agreements[edit]

Iran Air has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[26]


Iran Air Fokker 100

As of January 2017 the Iran Air mainline fleet consists of the following aircraft:[27]

Iran Air fleet
Aircraft Type In Service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A300B2-200 1 18 236 254
Airbus A300B4-200 3 18 236 254
Airbus A300-600R 4 22 239 261
Airbus A310-300 2 14 198 212
Airbus A320-200 6 6[28] 12 144 156
Airbus A320neo 32[28]
Airbus A321-200 1 7[28] 12 182 194 Deliveries from January 2017[29]
Airbus A330-200 10[28][30]
Deliveries from February 2017
Airbus A330-900neo 28[28]
Airbus A350-1000 16[28]
Fokker 100 4 104 104
McDonnell Douglas MD-82 4 12 140 152
Total 25 99

Future fleet plans[edit]

In anticipation of a deal being reached for the lifting of sanctions, the chairman of Iran Air stated that the airline would then seek to obtain at least 100 widebody- and short-haul jets.[31] In January 2016 Iran Air signed an agreement for 118 Airbus aircraft, to be made up of several different members of the manufacturer's twin-engine product line and 12 A380s.[10][32][33] On 22 December 2016, Airbus announced a smaller firm deal for 100 aircraft, comprising 46 Airbus A320 family and Airbus A320neo family aircraft; 16 A350s; and 38 A330s and A330neos; no A380s were ordered, after the airline concluded that Iranian airports lack the infrastructure to handle them.[34][30] In January 2017, the first aircraft of the order was handed over, an A321 already built for another airline but not delivered.[30][29]

On 1 February 2016, Iran Air signed an agreement with aircraft manufacturer ATR, covering an order of twenty ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft plus options for twenty more. Iran Air intends to use the ATR 72s as part of its strategy to expand its domestic market reach and to provide service to the smaller airports that are located in less populated cities of Iran. Deliveries are planned to begin in early 2017.[35]

In June 2016, Iran Air officially announced that it was in talks with Boeing for a possible order "close in size to the 118 Airbus aircraft agreement".[36] On 21 June 2016 Boeing announced it has signed a tentative agreement to sell jetliners to Iran, in what would be one of the Islamic Republic’s biggest deals with a U.S. manufacturer since trade sanctions on Tehran were eased.[37] On 11 December 2016, Boeing announced a provisional order by Iran Air for eighty aircraft, subject to "contingencies [being] cleared"; the order comprises fifty 737 MAX-8s, fifteen 777-300ERs and fifteen 777-9s.[38]

Historical fleet[edit]

Iran Air Boeing 747-200
Iran Air Boeing 747-100B
Iran Air Boeing 747SP

Iran Air has previously operated the following aircraft types:

Iran Air historical fleet
Aircraft Retired Notes
Airbus A310-200[39] 2009
Airbus A340-200[27] October 2007
Avro York[40] Operated by Persian Air Services prior to 1962 merger with Iranian Airways
Beechcraft Model 18[41] Operated by Iranian Airways prior to 1962 merger with Persian Air Services
Boeing 707-300 Around 2000 Also operated by Persian Air Services prior to 1962 merger with Iranian Airways[9]
Boeing 727-100 2006
Boeing 727-200 Advanced[27] 2014
Boeing 737-200[27] Before 2004
Boeing 747-100[27] January 2014
Boeing 747-100F[27] 1986 Transferred to Iranian Air Force
Boeing 747-200M[27] May 2016
Boeing 747SP[27] 10 July 2016 Iran Air was the last commercial operator of this type in passenger service.
Convair 240 1960s Operated by Iranian Airways prior to 1962 merger with Persian Air Services[41]
de Havilland Dove[41] Operated by Iranian Airways prior to 1962 merger with Persian Air Services
de Havilland Dragon Rapide[41] Operated by Iranian Airways prior to 1962 merger with Persian Air Services
Douglas DC-3 1972 Operated by Iranian Airways prior to 1962 merger with Persian Air Services[41]
Douglas DC-4 1960s Prior to 1962 merger, passenger versions operated by Iranian Airways, freight versions operated by Persian Air Services[9][41]
Douglas DC-6B 1972
Douglas DC-7C ? Operated by Persian Air Services prior to 1962 merger with Iranian Airways[9]
Douglas DC-8[27] 1977
McDonnell Douglas DC-9[27] 1976
Lockheed L-749 Constellation ?
Vickers Viscount 1960s
Concorde order

On 8 October 1972, Iran Air placed an order with British Aircraft Corporation for two Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde supersonic jets.[42] These orders were canceled in April 1980 after Concorde's production had ended in 1979, making Iran Air the last airline to cancel its Concorde orders.

Cargo division[edit]

Iran Air Cargo Boeing 747-200 taking off from Dubai International Airport

Iran Air Cargo is the freight division of the airline. In May 2008, the airline acquired two Airbus A300B4F aircraft to resume its freighter operations, which were suspended after the grounding of its single Boeing 747-200F cargo aircraft. Freight is also flown with Iran Air's passenger fleet belly-hold capacity.[43]

As of January 2017, the Iran Air Cargo fleet consists of the following aircraft:[27]

Iran Air Cargo fleet
Aircraft Type In Service Orders Notes
Airbus A300B4-200F 1
Boeing 747-200F 1
Total 2

Former subsidiaries[edit]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Before the two companies merged in 1962 to form Iran Air, Iranian Airways and Persian Air Services had several aircraft hull losses. Iranian Airways lost six Douglas DC-3s in crashes and a fire between 1949 and 1959;[47][48][49][50][51][52] and one of its Douglas DC-4s was shot down in 1961;[53] while Persian Air Services lost three Avro Yorks in crashes and a maintenance accident between 1955 and 1959.[54][55][56] Since 1962, Iran Air has had more than a dozen aircraft hull losses in crashes and the shooting-down of Iran Air Flight 655; the airline has also experienced twenty hijacking incidents on its aircraft.[57]

  • On 14 September 1950, an Iranian Airways Douglas DC-3, registration EP-AAG, bound for Saudi Arabia, crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran Mehrabad International Airport. The nine people on board, all employees of the airline, were killed.[48]
  • On 25 December 1952, an Iranian Airways Douglas DC-3 with twenty-one passengers and a crew of four on board crashed while on approach to Tehran airport. There was one survivor.[50]
  • On the evening of 21 January 1980, a Boeing 727-100 operating as Iran Air Flight 291 hit high ground north of Tehran in a snowstorm during its landing approach to Tehran's Mehrabad Airport, after the pilot failed to follow the correct path to the runway. All 128 passengers and crew on board were killed.[58]
  • On 3 July 1988, Iran Air Flight 655 was flying over the Persian Gulf on its way to Dubai from Bandar Abbas. According to the U.S. version of events, the crew of the United States Navy cruiser USS Vincennes mistook the airliner for an Iranian Air Force Grumman F-14 Tomcat jet fighter and the cruiser shot the airliner down with a missile, killing all 16 crew and 274 passengers. Iran maintains it was an intentional act of barbarism.[59]
  • On 9 June 1996 a Boeing 727-200 on a pilot training flight landed on its belly at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on its fifteenth touch-and-go landing in a series, after the crew forgot to extend the landing gear. The aircraft slid for more than 2 kilometres (1.2 mi; 2,200 yd) along the runway; instead of allowing the aircraft to stop the crew lifted it off again and it circled the airport to return for a landing with the gear extended. While circling, a fire broke out in the aircraft's rear fuselage, damaging its flight control systems. As the aircraft neared the ground it rolled left; the wing hit the ground and the aircraft crashed in a field, killing four of the seven crewmembers on board.[60]
  • On 2 January 2008, Iran Air Fokker 100 EP-IDB carrying 100 passengers skidded off the runway after its wing caught fire, when taking off for a domestic flight to Shiraz International Airport from Mehrabad Airport. No one was injured in the accident, which happened amid heavy snowfall at the airport.[61]
  • On 18 November 2009, Iran Air Fokker 100 EP-CFO suffered an undercarriage malfunction on take-off from Isfahan International Airport. The aircraft was on a flight to Mehrabad Airport, Tehran when the undercarriage failed to retract. The aircraft landed at Isfahan but was substantially damaged when the left main gear collapsed. There were no casualties in this event.[62]
  • On 15 January 2010, Iran Air Fokker 100 EP-IDA, operating Flight 223 was substantially damaged when the nose gear collapsed after landing at Isfahan International Airport. There were no casualties in this accident.[63]
  • On 9 January 2011 Iran Air Flight 277, a Boeing 727-200 (registration: EP-IRP) originating from Tehran, crashed near its destination city of Orumiyeh, 740 kilometres (460 mi) northwest of Tehran, during an attempted go-around in poor weather. It was carrying 105 people, of whom at least 77 were killed.[64]
  • On 18 October 2011 a Boeing 727-200 (registration: EP-IRR) operating a flight from Moscow as Flight 742 landed with the nose landing gear jammed in the retracted position at Mehrabad International Airport. Nobody was hurt in the accident.[65]

See also[edit]


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  45. ^ همان اتفاقی که در مورد آلومینیوم مهدی افتاد در مورد ایران ایرتور نیز افتاده است خبرگزاری الف
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  64. ^ "Iran Passenger Plane "Crashes" Near Orumiyeh". BBC World News. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  65. ^ "Iran Air ace forced to land without nose gear (VIDEO)". Retrieved 25 June 2016. 

External links[edit]