The crisis affecting world aviation is also affecting airlines in Iran, a country that lives under an economic embargo from the West and that operates mostly with outdated passenger planes. This is the case with Iran Air, the country’s flagship airline, which deactivated several of its jets due to lack of demand.
To raise funds, the company decided to auction 12 of its oldest jets, which have been out of service for several years. The aircraft list includes rarities like three Boeing 747SP, long-range version of the ‘Jumbo’. There are also two other 747s, one from the -100 version and one from the -200 version that were commonly used in the 70s and 80s, and two 727-200s. Iran Air also offered five Airbus planes for sale, three A300-B2K and two A310-200.
The cheapest aircraft in the auction, the Boeing 727-200 EP-IRR registration, has a minimum price of 415 million rials, approximately $ 9,900. Manufactured in 1974, the jet was delivered new to Iran Air itself when the United States and Iran still maintained good relations.
The aircraft with the highest value is the Boeing 747SP with EP-IAD registration. Iran Air asks for a minimum bid of 1.125 billion riyals for the model, just under $ 27,000.
Like the EP-IRR, the Jumbo was also ordered directly from Boeing by the company and delivered in July 1979, months before the invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution that culminated in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s rise to power.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a sharp drop in world air traffic and within Iran it was no different. Until mid-September, the country had accumulated almost 400,000 confirmed cases of the disease and 22,700 fatalities.
With an excess fleet, Iran Air had no choice but to deactivate a good part of its 40 aircraft. But the planes to be auctioned have been in storage for longer due to the lack of flight conditions. The 747SP, for example, stopped flying between 2012 and 2014 while others are possibly used as a source of spare parts for aircraft kept in flight.
Due to the American embargo, Iran Air operates a predominantly European aircraft fleet, especially Airbus. Among them are A300-600, A319, A320 and A330. According to the Planespotters website, only one 747-200 and two MD-82s would be left in operating conditions among US models. The airline’s newest planes are 13 ATR 72 turboprops delivered in 2017 before new economic restrictions were put in place.