Iran Air To Buy A380s!!!

Woah, I didn’t see this one coming! Airbus has really been struggling with selling the A380, as they haven’t received very many firm orders for the plane in the past few years. They’ve even considered stopping production altogether.

While Emirates loves the plane and is basically taking as many as they can get, other airlines aren’t finding the A380 quite as practical, instead choosing the Boeing 787 or Airbus A350. After all, there are only so many routes where a 500+ seat plane makes sense. While many airlines can fill 500+ seats, it usually leads to lower yields, given that not all seats can be sold at high fares.

The only new A380 “activity” we’ve seen lately has been from ANA, which is ordering three A380s. They seem to want to fly these primarily to Hawaii, so I suspect they may be the highest density A380s yet (probably even higher density than Emirates’ 615 seat two class A380s). And even ANA didn’t really want to buy the A380s, but rather was sort of forced into it because of their deal with Skymark.

Emirates-A380

But now there’s a new A380 operator on the horizon, and it’s one I really didn’t see coming.

Iran Air plans on acquiring 127 new planes as part of their fleet renewal program. That includes eight A380s and 16 A350s.

Via CNBC:

Iran has struck a provisional deal with Europe’s Airbus to buy eight A-380 superjumbo planes to be delivered from 2019, the deputy transport minister told Reuters on Sunday.

A deal for 127, mainly new, aircraft which it hopes to complete this week also includes 16 A350 jets, Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, deputy transport minister said in an interview on the sidelines of an aviation conference in Tehran.

Tehran has long said it will need to revamp an aging fleet, hit by a shortage of parts because of trade bans imposed by Washington and other Western powers. Its planes fleet have suffered several fatal crashes in recent years.

All of this news comes after last week’s big announcement of sanctions being lifted between Iran and the US/Europe. This was done after international inspectors confirmed the country has in fact dismantled their nuclear program.

Iran Air has an extremely old fleet, as they operate Airbus A300s, A310s, Fokker 100s, and even a 747SP (that last one is downright cool). If they do in fact take delivery of 127 (mostly) new planes, this could translate to one of the most radical fleet transformation programs we’ve seen.

Iran-Air

Bottom line

It’s great to see Iran Air refresh their fleet, and hopefully have better relations with western countries going forward. I’m curious to see whether the US and Iran can reach an air agreement, as Iran has with many European countries.

If so, I can see Iran Air operating all those A380s between Tehran and Los Angeles. LA isn’t nicknamed Tehrangeles for nothing. 😉

I’ve reviewed the first class products on every A380 operator out there — including Air France, AsianaBritish Airways, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad AirwaysKorean Air, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar AirwaysSingapore Airlines, and Thai Airways — and I’d love to eventually add Iran Air to that list. For that matter, I’ve always wanted to visit Iran, though I’ll probably wait a bit longer till I do that.

Are you surprised to see Iran Air order A380s, and would you consider trying out their A380 when it goes into service?

Comments

  1. Flew them back in 1998. Efficient, good service by male and female FAs, very low domestic fares. A wonderful and in many ways liberal country that needs to be able to modernize and come in from the cold.

  2. @Ben sez: “This will never happen.”

    I believe that at least a small part of the deal will happen. Flush with cash from the recent lifting of international sanctions, Iran is looking to jumpstart their economy, so that investing in modernizing their antiquated commercial aviation does make sense. However, I am not sure that buying a bunch of A380s is the way to go…

  3. For Shia travelers from US to South Asia Iran Air might be an alternative if air rights are secured. Yes LA Teheran would be the ideal route

  4. Wouldn’t surprise given the location of Iran. It can compete with ME3. Midwest is great location, not only because Euro-Oceania routes, but East Asia – Europe/Africa/Latin America routes.

  5. I think they should invest more heavily on the lines of 787s or 350s to get started and have flights to destinations instead of investing into 380s for a few routes.

  6. “This was done after international inspectors confirmed the country has in fact dismantled their nuclear program.”…. hahahaha… good one!

  7. I just have one thing to say….ahahahahahahahahahhah!

    Ok, two…this may rank close as being one of the WORST ever strategic plane orders in the history of aviation. Of course, this is the same airline that has run flights between Tehran and Caracas in a 747. SMH.

  8. Agree, the program has not been dismantled. If this is true, this really flies in the face of the Administration who partially brokered the deal to help American companies, read Boeing, win contracts in the country. The country continues to give the middle finger to the U.S.

  9. Two (completely different) points:

    1) It’s likely that Airbus made IR a VERY good deal based on them taking both A380s and A350s. So good as to, essentially, make the A380s close to free (in the grand scheme). What should be more troubling is that this is a deal Boeing could have landed if it weren’t for a bunch of US legislators that are more beholden a particularly anti-Iranian lobby than to American business.

    2) As many Iranian-Americans as there are in Southern California, a very large percentage of them came here as political and religious refugees, fleeing the fundamentalist regime that is still in power in Iran. Many still cannot safely travel back to Iran today, even if they wanted to. There may be a meaningful cargo market, but the passenger demand would, likely, be quite weak.

  10. Who is going to want to transit Iran when they arbitrarily detain/arrest people and throw them in jail without due process, using them as bargaining chips to arrange lopsided prisoner exchanges?

  11. Did Aeroflot from RUS cancel their A380’s … I thought they were the “next cab off the Airbus rank” … I must’ve missed something please do fill me in !

  12. Ben I mean no offence but for the love of all things good. Don’t fly and stay in Iran. I know it sounds super exotic but given how Cray Cray the religious police are in Iran it is most likely you’ll be arrested As an American spy or something.

  13. It’s hard to imagine, but Iran Air was the Emirates of the late 70s: the airline flew the world’s longest route at one point, the nonstop Tehran to New York flight, and had once offered daily nonstops to Asia and Europe, but then the revolution happened.

  14. @W – If the Iranian revolution hadn’t happened, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar probably wouldn’t be where they are today. Tehran was the Dubai of the 1970s – Google classic Iran Air ads from that era – “fly [from Europe] to the Persian Gulf, India, Peking and Tokyo from exotic Tehran” was a common tag line.

    Unlike Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Tehran also offered a lot more than a desert transit stop. It is the gateway to a country with an ancient history and actual culture. Plus, Tehran’s party scene was out of this world.

    Alas, things are different now. Sigh!

  15. @Mood

    I was in Tehran ten or so years ago. I can assure you that the party scene is alive and well in the city’s northern neighborhoods.

  16. @Moodz – yep, agreed. Its a real shame the revolution happened, but if this works out and Tehran becomes the new Dubai and the situation improves, I’d be more than happy to visit someday!

  17. this is an interesting development… prolly not a wise strategic decision on part of IR, but perhaps a decent business decision with some kind of an inside deal (from EU businesses to jumpstart things) considering how bad Airbus & the general EU economy is doing.

    cant wait for Iran to rejoin the modern league of nations again — if only to partly claim its lost, forgotten glory. once folks start traveling to Iran again (this new generation,) they will see what a whole diff world it actually is (for the better) and how much more better, liberal it is than other places in the region. miles ahead of that backwards shitshow that is Saudi Arabia for sure.

    once the fleet revitalization is finished, it begets the Q which alliance will vie for IR? or will alliances not even be all that relevant in the next 5 yrs as airlines move more towards codeshare & joint venture partnerships…

  18. Los Angeles to Tehran is the single largest trans-Atlantic local market without a non-stop with in excess of 140,000 annual passengers.

  19. The full news report says that they will likely place an order of similar volume with Boeing as well. Apparently, the negotiations are just not as far as with Airbus. I guess Airbus was a bit less hesitant to start talks before the sanctions were actually lifted, but in the end everyone will get a piece of the pie. No major airline settles with only one of the two big plane manufacturers.

    Overall, I think the order is not unreasonable. They will find good use for 8 A380s, it is not actually that many. They can use them for prestige on a few high-profile routes, and the rest as high-density people carriers.

  20. Check out the Anthony Bourdain food show on Iran. A very interesting juxtaposition of cultures there, as has always been the case.

  21. It’s always good to read comments on articles like this to get a reminder of how ignorant and arrogant Americans can be with foreign affairs. (Apologies to the millions of rational and informed Americans who get lumped in with these stereotypes!)

  22. Looking forward to the review of Iran Air’s A380 on-board bar. Wonder if they’ll serve Krug or Dom Perignon? 😛

  23. It’s a smart move on their part to purchase these mega planes. They’ll be able to hide more weapons in them to ship to terrorist organizations around the world, and will have a better selection of passengers to take hostage given the number that a 380 holds.

    So here’s the message to the world. We take your people hostage, jail them, kill them, persecute gays, manufacture weapons that kill Americans and their allies, build nuclear capabilities with the stated purchase to destroy select enemies…….and our feckless President agrees to drop the sanctions, let them self-inspect or request 21 days notice, and oh, by the way, gives them the $150 Billion all at once. And of course, do you see a million Americans marching on Washington to protest this? Nope.

    One would think that Airbus was actually doing the Iran Nuclear negotiations.

    What ever happened to “you don’t negotiate with terrorists”. Oh yeah, that’s for Presidents that actually have testicles.

    Sorry for the rant, but it really does seem unconscionable that this is our reality.

  24. Howard, I’m sure a lot of things seem like that when you live in Cloud Cuckoo land. I really hope you’re exaggerating because you know your argument is poor and don’t genuinely believe half of what you wrote, it’s bordering on insanity… Iran sending A380s around the world to gather hostages!? (Rather rich coming from a country famous for kidnapping and holding people in prison without charge…)

  25. I have said this maybe twice before on this blog…There are SO SO many other places to have a ridiculous or logical political discussion, I don’t care which you choose…Just choose to have it someplace else…

  26. I really understand that the majority of readers are American, based on these comments. WOW.

    Talk about prejudiced comments.

  27. Well, if you are an Iran hater and believe all the stuff you say than you should be happy with the purchase of the A380’s. It will drain the govt. even more of capital as they ply thin routes from Tehran with 57 passengers in 500 seat aircraft. Truly, I say again, one of the most hysterically funny aircraft orders ever placed.

    Sure, they got a good deal from Airbus…but really, after a few years of these planes sucking fuel and flying empty that benefit is more than erased. It’s like selling a Hummer to a New York cab driver.

  28. Stuart – An absolute load of rubbish. You can argue that it would be unprofitable (which would be a rather convincing argument), but they certainly won’t be flying empty.

    Ignoring the fact that Europe isn’t as hysterical towards Iran as the US is (and so Europeans are MUCH more likely to want to go there on holiday – now the sanctions are being lifted I’ve heard many people say they’d be interested in going, and business deals between the EU and Iran are set to happen on a large scale), by virtue of being in the Middle East they can easily get a tonne of connecting traffic.

    As I said, you could argue they’d have to price the tickets so low to attract that traffic that it would be unprofitable, but they aren’t going to be flying with 57 people in them…

  29. I’m actually planning a trip to Iran in late spring. My main goal is to fly some of the older aircraft such as a 727, 747-100sp, A300, and maybe some smaller ones. Has anyone else done this lately? Ben, what’s your thought on this? I’d love to see some reviews from these soon-to-be extinct planes.

    I see two main barriers. The first is getting a VISA. I live in the US and thus don’t have a embassy to apply to. One alternative is to got to their offices in Canada. I’ve got a British passport and the Iranian Embassy reopened in London recently. So, this may be a better option.

    The second barrier is purchasing a flight there. I’m guessing I’ll need to use a non USA VPN or be out of the country to purchase tickets from a non USA city.

    I’d love some ideas/suggestions!

  30. @James G

    There are some youtube videos from aviation enthusiasts that have done a similar trip. Visa applications for travel to Iran from applicants in the US are handled by Iran’s Interests Section office in Washington, DC (look up http://www.daftar.org/eng). You can also purchase tickets in the US for travel originating from most cities in the US. Currently Lufthansa, Turkish Air, Austrian, Swiss Air, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Air, and a few other airlines provide daily flights to Tehran and other major Iranian cities connecting through Europe or ME3 hubs.

    Judging by the number of daily non-stop flights from Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Dubai connecting US passengers to/from Iran’s major population centers, there won’t be a shortage of demand for Iran Air tickets on future direct flights from the US to Tehran.

  31. What a completely stupid comment, let us forget the US isn’t that important in the World! Oh unless you live there when World news is nothing but the US and sometimes Canada! Jesus get over yourself.

  32. Guys..take it easy..it s 21 first century,communication century ,those who are in good communication and relation ,they have got more progress.
    I am wondering for some comments ..imagine those old airplanes carries so many innocent passengers.one of those passengers might be your family or friends or …i think it s a time to end such a stupid thought and meaningless tension ..
    Those airplanes still flying over many cities even in Europe and so many other places ,any incidents can harm even ,those who are not on boards .

  33. I am extremely chocked by some of the racist comments.disgusting!

    Its absolutely weird that despite western claims, western people are more exposed by propaganda.for your notice, there is no religues police in Iran.its Saudi Arabia, your buddy in ME.its Saudi Arabia that prohibits women from driving or participating in elections. In Iran, 61 percent of university students are women.in SA its less than 5 percent.you guys are deeply under media propaganda and meanwhile you accusing us the same.funny!!

    On topic, Iran has a population of 80 million and 5 milions are living abroad (mostly in USA and Canada) and less than 1000 out of 5 milions are wanted by the Iranian justice system.so there lots connections between Iranians living in USA and the motherland.also Tehran-London,Frankfurt,Shanghai are among popular routs.using A-380 on these routs is a wise decision.also this plane is so good for branding.

    As an Iranian fan boy of Aviation, I find this deal very practical and profiting.

    Iran haters go to hell.LOL

  34. I’m disappointed to call myself an American after reading some comments on this article.
    @james G, it is possible to visit Iran for US residents. Rapidtravelchai visited Iran a few years ago.
    I applied for an Iranian visa back in 2012 but the waiting took soooo long (waited over two months) and I just gave up. It is possible to fly Iran Air or Mahan Air by transiting through Iran. Due to sanctions it’s impossible to buy the airline ticket through your US credit card. When I flew the Iran Air 747-SP, I paid for the fare in cash. I didn’t have any issues with my US passport. Tehran airport is cool especially when travelling in J or F because there is a completely separate terminal for J/F passengers. Very modern facilities. No limos or private cars to bring you to your plane but there is a mini shuttle bus.
    One thing to note though is Iran Air is a dry airline… So i doubt there will be Krug or Dom in their A380s.

  35. Reading through the comments, one can only come to the conclusion that Americans are (1) incredibly stupid, (2) uninformed, (3) brainwashed, and (4) racist.

    No wonder our country is falling apart.

  36. I was in Iran in 2013. The country is so beautiful, most of the people are very kind and receive tourists in a happy way and gastronomy is excellent. And common people never have those hate speeches about the US. All the other way around, they want to know outsiders’ culture.

    I flew with an Iranian airline in a domestic flight, and the good thing of older planes is that seat ptich is great!

    I am eager to go back.

  37. I just got back from 2 weeks in Iran and I have never met nicer people. I had one domestic flight on a very tired Fokker 100 from Tehran to Shiraz. Their airlines really need new planes. The Tehran airport is also an old plane graveyard so they can scavenge parts if they need them. Most of the people I met liked Americans very much. The Iranian government is another story but we had no problems. We shouldn’t give up on the Persian people. They already have it very tough under the current regime.

  38. I’ve always wanted to visit Iran as well, but as side from the visa problems, and limited flights, the main problem is the hotels, I can’t find any hotels in Tehran that aren’t crappy! Maybe I’ll wait a few years for the country to grow, then I’ll be checking in at the Four Seasons Tehran!

  39. I love how crazy people are about Iran being dangerous. I felt more safe in Iran then I felt in Seville! Iran is a wonderful place to go! Great way to experience Muslim culture, and far more liberal and interesting then that hellhole they call Dubai.

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