Is the Iranian Cargo Market Starting to Move?

There was quite some publicity earlier this year when sanctions against Iran were lifted and it was claimed that Iranian carriers were planning to sign deals, mainly with Airbus, for hundreds of new aircraft.
There were no disclosed all freighter deals published, but the belly capaci-ty alone on the ‘said-to-be’ orders or options was the equivalent of up to ten to fifteen pure freighters.

Iran Air intends ordering up to 118 Airbus and Boeing jetliners to modernize its aging fleet. Seen here is an Airbus A300
Iran Air intends ordering up to 118 Airbus and Boeing jetliners to modernize its aging fleet. Seen here is an Airbus A300

IAG Cargo one of the first to make a move?
British Airways commenced services on 1. September using a Boeing 777-200 passenger aircraft for a 6 x weekly operation from London Heathrow to Tehran.
The aircraft and the relatively short sector it operates allows IAG Cargo to market up to 20 tons per flight each way which can be loaded over 6 belly positions.
This according to IAG Cargo management allows shippers a better connectivity between European and Middle Eastern markets.
By offering around 120 tons west and eastbound per week, IAG Cargo is probably one of the first to take advantage of this new market.

What plans are there for developing Tehran as an air cargo hub?
News out of Iran has slowed down considerably since the initial announcement that sanctions were on the way out and future aviation development for the country was a must.

Orders for new aircraft have been made, but there are also many questionable options that still have to be confirmed by Iranian carriers.
Iran Air has up to now to the best of our knowledge not commented on any future cargo fleet or joint venture on the air cargo side with another carrier.
Tehran’s geographical location makes it technically also an ideal area to build and grow an air cargo and even passenger hub.
However - this, if it were to come about, would be no easy task for the Iranian authorities due to the rather rundown infrastructure, which came about due to many long years of isolation.

Where is Iran Air going from here?
The question also arises as to whether it would make sense to go into direct competition with neighboring Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and even Istanbul.
European carriers will follow IAG’s example and place enough wide-body capacity with ample belly space into Tehran and a few other Iranian cities.

Where will Iran Air fit in here during the coming years and will they be able to offer a competitive product or be forced to curtail other carrier’s activities?

Much to be done until then.

John Mc Donagh

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