Lonely Planet Writer

Iran heralds end of sanctions with plane shopping spree

Following the lifting of sanctions under the recent nuclear agreement, Iran is set to spread its wings and become a tourism hotspot for world travellers again.

Iranian flag
Iran has announced a major order with Airbus for 114 new planes as it gets ready to meet the new tourism era it is entering post sanctions Image by Blondinrikard Froberg / CC BY 2.0

The country is looking forward to a massive increase in inbound and outbound tourism and announced this week that it has reached agreement with Airbus to buy 114 planes to replace its current ageing fleet. Iran’s Transport Minister disclosed that the deal will be signed in Paris later this week by President Hassan Rouhani. Yahoo News reports that the Tehran administration has prioritized updating its infrastructure and plane fleet as it begins a “new chapter” on the international tourist scene.

Many of the current Iranian plane fleet are old and in need of urgent replacing
Many of the current Iranian plane fleet are old and in need of urgent replacing Image by fsse8info / CC BY-SA 2.0

With a population of 79 million people, the country already has a good road network but requires urgent transport upgrades to boost trade and tourism. In particular, its airports need a cash injection of €230 million to upgrade its navigation systems. Of Iran’s 67 airports, only nine are operational at present. The sanctions over the past decade have seen the country suffer a number of air crashes because of a combination of poor maintenance, old planes and a scarcity of new parts.

The first batch of planes will be delivered in mid-March, mainly A320s, A321s and A330s. Within four years, the country will take delivery of eight of the world’s largest passenger planes, the A380s as well as 16 A350s. It is understood that the basic price of planes has been already fixed but that there will be “added options” for each plane.

The announcement of the Airbus deal coincided with 85 companies attending an aviation industry conference in Tehran to discuss the expansion of airline opportunities in the country. The head of the CAPA consultancy, Peter Harbison, who organised the conference, said the massive spin-off would see jobs created and tourism expanding. That would require more infrastructure, especially hotels and planes to ferry people to and from the country.

As well as the deal with Airbus, it was revealed that there are also talks ongoing with Boeing, the US plan manufacturer while there is also negotiation with the US about the possibility of re-launching direct air routes which had been discontinued following the severing of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1979.