File photo of a Kish Air airplane

Iran Bought 29-Year-Old Airplane From Taliban

Friday, 03/15/2024

Amid a deteriorating aviation fleet and a bleak outlook for acquiring modern aircraft, Iran has purchased a 29-year-old plane from the Taliban, Iranian daily Aftab-e Yazd has reported.

The plane, most likely a McDonnell Douglas MD-82, was originally built in 1995 for Italy. It was later used by Ukraine for 19 years and then by Kam Air, an Afghan airline. It has been acquired by Iranian airline Kish Air, the paper claimed.

The article by Aftab-e Yazd also criticized the Raisi administration which has claimed it has added 90 planes to the country's fleet, saying that 50 of them were old planes that have been repaired in Iran.

The article quipped, "Let's just pray” that Iran only bought one 29-year-old Kam Air aircraft and the remaining 49 are procured from other sources.

The purchase of the plane comes just two months after Airbus, the European aerospace giant, officially canceled a major deal to sell Iran 100 planes. The deal was worth an estimated $30 billion and was seen as a key part of Iran's efforts to modernize its fleet after the lifting of sanctions as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA). A few airbus planes were delivered but the Trump administration never approved sale of US planes until Washington withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions.

Iran has suffered from shortages of civilian airliners since the 1990s. The sanctions have made it almost impossible for Iran to purchase new aircraft or spare parts from Western companies. To compensate, Iran resorted to leasing older planes or procuring spare parts through intermediaries. However, the technical state of their fleet has steadily deteriorated over time.

As a result, Iran's fleet has become increasingly old and unreliable. The average age of Iran's planes is now over 25 years, and many of them are in need of major repairs.

In July 2023, Mohammad Mohammadi-Bakhsh, the head of the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization, said that Iran currently needs 550 planes, but only has 180.

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