Iran Air and Airbus seal historic aircraft order – Agreement covers 100 aircraft

Iran Air and Airbus have signed a firm contract for 100 aircraft, building on an initial commitment signed in January 2016 in Paris. The agreement signed by Farhad Parvaresh, Iran Air Chairman and CEO and Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President and CEO, covers 46 A320 Family, 38 A330 Family and 16 A350 XWB aircraft. Deliveries will begin in early 2017.

“I am delighted that we have reached an agreement to go to the next decisive phase and start taking delivery of new aircraft. I am gratified that this new round of cooperation with Airbus has come to fruition and brought us closer with more practical steps to follow for Iran Air’s fleet renewal. Iran Air considers this agreement an important step towards a stronger international presence in civil aviation. We hope this success signals to the world that the commercial goals of Iran and its counterparts are better achieved with international cooperation and collaboration”, said Mr Farhad Parvaresh, Iran Air Chairman and CEO.


“This is a landmark agreement not only because it paves the way for Iran Air’s fleet renewal”, said Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President and CEO. “Our overall accord includes pilot training, airport operations and air traffic management so this agreement is also a significant first step in the overall modernization of Iran’s commercial aviation sector”.
The agreement is subject to US government Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) export licences which were granted in September and November 2016. These licenses are required for products containing 10 per cent or more US technology content. Airbus coordinated closely with regulators in the EU, US and elsewhere to ensure understanding and full compliance with the JCPOA.  Airbus will continue to act in full compliance with the conditions of the OFAC licenses.

The agreement follows the implementation of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action), its associated rules and guidance and included new commercial aircraft orders as well as a comprehensive civil aviation package. The package includes pilot and maintenance training, supporting the development of air navigation services (ATM), airport and aircraft operations and regulatory harmonization.
As the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer, Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus has design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain, and subsidiaries in the US, China, India, Japan and in the Middle East. In addition, Airbus provides the highest standard of customer support and training through an expanding international network.

Merry Christmas!

With 2016 rapidly heading to a close, it seems like the ideal opportunity to reflect on what has been a breathless year.

The headlines have been dominated once again by the ‘big two’, Airbus and Boeing, which celebrated their 10,000th delivery and centennial anniversary respectively.  But almost every major aerospace manufacturer reached one milestone or another.  This is reflected in the number and variety of airliners that have emerged over the last 12 months.  No fewer than four different types completed their first flights – the A321neo, 737 MAX, Embraer E-Jet E2 and, most recently, the A350-1000.  Others, such as the A320neo and Bombardier C Series, have made their commercial debuts.  However, with a paucity of new aircraft now under development, it may well be years before we see such a feat repeated on this scale.

It hasn’t all been good news.  Terrorist attacks at airports in Brussels and Istanbul, and continued political and economic instability elsewhere, has put the industry under mounting pressure once again and this shows little sign of changing anytime soon.

Trade events often reflect the ups and downs of the industry and July’s Farnborough International Airshow was no exception.  After a rather inauspicious start – punctuated by storms, localised flooding and power cuts – and an uncharacteristic lack of pre-show hype, it ultimately proved to be very much business as usual with several debutants in the static and flying displays.  There was swagger aplenty as manufacturers defied the perceived industry slow-down to rack up an estimated $120bn in sales.  Significantly, though, this was almost $50bn lower than the previous show.  Perhaps 2017 will be a year of consolidation, more likely remembered for production ramp ups and record deliveries rather than multi-billion pound orders?

Finally, it just remains for me to thank you for your continued support over the last year.  We’re very privileged to have such a strong and enthusiastic readership and I hope you continue to enjoy the magazine over the coming issues.

The e-newsletter will take a brief hiatus during the festive period, but normal service will resume on January 4.

From myself, Barry, James and the rest of the Airliner World team, we wish you a very enjoyable holiday season and a happy and prosperous new year.

Craig West

Asian Duo Get Maiden A320neos

Two Asian carriers have taken delivery of their first Airbus A320neos.

Airbus A320-271 B-8545 (c/n 6975) was handed over to China Southern Airlines from the manufacturer’s Hamburg/Finkenwerder facility on December 14. It was followed two days later by B-8637 (c/n 7129).  The jets, which have been leased from AerCap, are the first of 24 examples the SkyTeam carrier has on order.

All Nippon Airways became the first Japanese carrier to take delivery of an A320neo when it received JA211A (c/n 7401) on December 16. The aircraft features Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G-JM engines and is configured in a two-class layout with eight Business Class seats and 138 in Economy.  The carrier will start scheduled regional services with the aircraft in January.

Merger Gets Go-Ahead

The Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) has approved plans to launch a new European leisure carrier under a joint venture with TUI.  The deal, which remains subject to regulatory approval, will see elements of several airlines merge together under a new brand, operating a combined fleet of 60 aircraft and flying point-to-point services to key leisure markets across the Continent.

The Vienna-based airline, expected to launch services in April, will come about through the wholesale reorganisation of Etihad’s strategic partner airberlin.  The German carrier is set to surrender its 49.2% stake in Austrian subsidiary Niki to the joint-venture.  This will be complemented by 14 Boeing 737s, owned by TUI offshoot TUIfly, but currently operating under a long-term wet-lease to airberlin.

Ownership of the joint venture will be split between TUI (24.8%) and Etihad (25%) while the remaining 50.2% will be retained by the existing private foundation NIKI Privatstiftung.

CS300 Makes Commercial Debut

Launch customer airBaltic has successfully debuted the Bombardier CS300 on its Riga-Amsterdam service.  The first commercial flight of the type carried 120 passengers, including local media.

CEO Martin Gauss said: “airBaltic has been counting down the days to this landmark moment.  During its maiden commercial flight today, the CS300 aircraft performed beyond our expectations and offered a new level of travel experience for our customers.  We look forward to serving many communities across Western Europe and the Eastern markets with the CS300 aircraft – the largest variant in the world’s most efficient and environmentally friendly family of airliners.”

The Riga-based carrier has ordered 20 CS300s which it is operating in a 145-seat, two-class configuration.

Fred Cromer, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, said: “The CS300 aircraft’s entry-into-service also confirms Bombardier’s successful execution on our commitment to deliver the only all-new family of single-aisle airliners in the 100- to 150-seat market in 30 years.”

Rob Dewar, Vice President, C Series Aircraft Program, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, added: “Today’s commercial flight highlights the remarkable journey between airBaltic and Bombardier as the CS300 aircraft is brought to market.  We salute airBaltic, our employees, suppliers and industry stakeholders for their steadfast loyalty to the success of the C Series aircraft program.”

Alaska/Virgin America Merger Completed

Alaska Air Group has closed its acquisition of Virgin America, just days after the deal was cleared by the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The definitive merger agreement was signed in April and approved by Virgin America shareholders in July.  The DOJ gave the deal the green light on December 6 on condition that Alaska Airlines implements “limited” changes to its codeshare agreement with American Airlines.  Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, was not required to divest any assets.  The deal was closed on December 14.

“Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are different airlines, but we believe ‘different’ works – and we’re confident fliers will agree,” said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group.  “Together, we’ll offer more flights, with low fares, more rewards and more for customers to love, as we continue to offer a distinctive travel experience. The two airlines may look different, but our core customer and employee focus is very much the same.”

Over the next year Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will work together to secure Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to allow the two
airlines to operate as a single carrier.  No decisions have been taken regarding the future of the Virgin America brand.  Alaska says it will continue to operate the Virgin America fleet with the current product and name “for a period of time” to allow it to undertake extensive customer research “to understand what fliers value the most”.  One decision Alaska, an all-Boeing 737 operator, faces is whether to keep Virgin America’s all-Airbus A320 Family fleet.

“We appreciate there is great interest in the future of the Virgin America brand among customers and employees alike,” said Tilden.  “This is a big decision and one that deserves months of thoughtful and thorough analysis.”

Tilden will lead the combined company while Ben Minicucci becomes CEO of Virgin America in addition to his responsibilities as COO and President of Alaska Airlines.  Peter Hunt, previously Virgin America Senior VP and CFO, will now serve as president of the subsidiary.  The company say Minicucci and Hunt’s positions are effective immediately and remain in force until a single operating certificate has been obtained from the FAA, expected in early 2018.

Bumper Boeing Order from Iran Air

Boeing and Iran Air have reached agreement over an order for 80 aircraft.

The Tehran-based carrier has signed a contract for 50 737 MAX 8s, 15 777-300ERs and 15 777-9s, valued at $16.6bn at list prices.  The deal is based on a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed in June and was reached within the terms of the US Government licence issued to Boeing in September.

In a statement the manufacturer said it “coordinated closely with the US Government throughout the process leading up to the sale and continues to follow all licence requirements as it moves forward to implement the sales agreement”.

Norwegian’s First Neo Heads East

Norwegian subsidiary Arctic Aviation Assets (AAA) has received its first Airbus A320neo, which has been immediately leased to HK Express. The jet, B-LCL (c/n 7209), is the first of 70 A320neos the Norwegian Group has on order, and the first of 12 which will be leased to Hong Kong-based budget carrier HK Express.

“This delivery is a milestone for us as it is the first of many Airbus aircraft to be delivered in the near future. It is a pleasure to work with HK Express and support their expanding network with the modern and fuel-efficient A320neo,” said AAA COO Tore Jenssen.

Norwegian is expecting to take delivery of the first eight of the 30 Airbus A321LRs it has on order in 2019 with the remaining 22 following over the next two years.

Alaska/Virgin America Merger Approved

Alaska Air Group’s merger with Virgin America has been cleared by the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

Approval was given on condition that Alaska implements “limited” changes to its codeshare agreement with American Airlines, though it is not required to divest any assets.

“We couldn’t be more excited about receiving DOJ clearance for our merger with Virgin America,” said Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Brad Tilden. “With this combination now cleared for take-off, we’re thrilled to bring these two companies together and start delivering our low fares and great service to an even larger group of customers.”

Alaska Air Group, the parent firm of Alaska Airlines, plans to close the transaction “in the very near future, taking into account the lawsuit filed by private plaintiffs in US District Court in San Francisco”.  The company says the “the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit and plans to defend its acquisition of Virgin America accordingly”.

Tilden added: “We remain confident in the merits of this transaction.  The expanded West Coast presence and larger customer base create an enhanced platform for growth, which is good for investors, employees and especially customers – who benefit from more choices, increased competition and low fares.”