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Iran Air
ایران ایر
Iran Air logo.svg
Founded 1962
Focus cities
Frequent flyer program SkyGift
Fleet size 64 (+44 orders) incl. cargo
Destinations 55 in 28 countries
Parent company Iran National Airlines Corporation
Headquarters Tehran, Iran
Key people Farhad Parvaresh (Chairman, CEO)

Iran Air (Persian: ایران ایر) or locally known as (Persian: هواپیمائی جمهوری اسلامی ایران) or Airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the flag carrier airline of Iran, operating services to 20 scheduled and 5 charter destinations. The cargo fleet operates services to 35 international and 25 domestic destinations. Its main base is the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport.[1] It is headquartered on the grounds of Mehrabad Airport in Tehran.[2]

Its acronym, Homa (Persian: هما), is derived from two sources: the initial letters of the name in Persian: هواپیمایی ملی ایران Havapeyma'i-ye Melli-ye Iran; and from Homa, a griffin of Persian mythology.

Recent news reports by Press TV claim that the Iranian government plans to privatize Iran Air with its subsidy carrier Iran Air Tours along with the Homa Hotel Group.





In 1946, a group of businessmen founded Iran's first flag carrier under the name of Iranian Airways. Operations covered domestic and regional passenger and freight services plus a weekly freight service to Europe. The fleet consisted of Douglas DC-3s initially, supplemented by Douglas DC-4 and Vickers Viscount aircraft, later on. In 1954, the privately owned airline Persian Air Services (PAS) was established, which initially operated only freight services, followed by passenger operations between Tehran and other major cities in Iran. In 1960, PAS initiated service to several European destinations, including Geneva, Paris, Brussels and London, using Douglas DC-7C aircraft, leased from Sabena.

On 24 February 1962, Iranian Airways and PAS were merged to form the Iran National Airlines Corporation, known as Iran Air. It was as a public sector venture, that combined the assets and liabilities of the two predecessor air carriers. Among the aircraft used were Avro York, Douglas DC-3, Douglas DC-6 and Vickers Viscount. The carrier became a full member of IATA in 1964.

"Iranian Airways" was established in May 1944 and flew its first passenger flight, after World War II, from Tehran to the holy city of Mashhad. Within a period of 17 years, from 1945 to 1962, the airline developed into a major domestic carrier with a few international flights per week.

The board of ministers ratified a proposal to establish a national airline on 10 February 1961. Following this decision, on 24 February 1961, "Iranian Airways" and "Pars Airways", a private airline established in 1954, merged to form the new airline "Iran Air", using the "HOMA" bird as a symbol.


An Iran Air Boeing 747-200 landing at London Heathrow Airport, England. (1979)

In 1965, Iran Air took delivery of its first jet aircraft, the Boeing 727-100, followed by the Boeing 737-200 in 1971, the stretched Boeing 727-200 in 1974 and three variants of Boeing 747s (747-100, -200 and SP), starting in 1975. By the mid-1970s, Iran Air was serving cities in Europe with non-stop and one-stop flights (there were over 30 flights per week to London alone).

On 8 October 1972, Iran Air placed an order with British Aircraft Corporation for two Concorde supersonic jets, plus one option. One was leased for a few flights from Tehran to Kish Island, but never appeared in Iran Air Livery. These orders were canceled in April 1980, in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, making Iran Air the last airline to cancel its Concorde orders.

On 29 May 1975, the Tehran to New York City route was inaugurated, first with Boeing 707s, making a stop-over at London Heathrow Airport. Shortly thereafter, the route was converted into a non-stop flight using Boeing 747SPs, making Iran Air the second Middle Eastern carrier (after El Al), to offer non-stop service to New York. With this flight, Iran Air set a new world record in time and distance for a non-stop, scheduled long-haul flight (12 hours and 15 minutes, 9,867 km - 6,131 mi - 5,328 nm). In 1978, the airline acquired six Airbus A300B2k aircraft for use on its domestic trunk and busy regional routes. By the end of that year, Iran Air was serving 31 international destinations stretching from New York City to Beijing and Tokyo. Plans were made to offer direct services to Los Angeles and to Sydney, for which the airline's long range Boeing 747SP aircraft were ideally suited. This would have allowed Iran Air to use Tehran as a midway point between East and West, because of its home base's favorable geographical location. Such plans were never realized.

By the late 1970s, Iran Air was the fastest growing airline in the world and one of the most profitable. By 1976, Iran Air was ranked second only to Qantas, as the world’s safest airline, having been accident free for at least ten consecutive years. Although both airlines were accident free, Iran Air came second only because of fewer operational hours flown compared to Qantas. Prior to this ranking, a fatal accident occurred on 25 December 1952, in which 27 of the 29 passengers on board perished, when their Douglas DC-3 crashed on landing.

After the Iranian Revolution

An Iran Air Boeing 747-200 landing at London Heathrow Airport, England. (2002)
An Iran Air Boeing 747SP docked at Narita International Airport, Japan. (2007)

In the wake of the Iranian Revolution in February 1979, Iran Air began to reorganize its international operations, discontinuing service to a range of foreign destinations. Tehran was designated as the only official gateway to Iran, while Shiraz could be used as an alternate, only in case of operational requirements. All other cities in Iran lost their international status. However, in recent times, many of Iran's major city airports have regained a minor international status. These direct international flights using airports in other major Iranian cities currently serve regional countries.

The last departure from New York was on 7 November 1979. The last scheduled flight from Tehran to New York City on 8 November 1979 was diverted at the last minute to Montreal, prompted by an embargo suddenly imposed by the U.S. government. Subsequently, the Boeing 747SPs were used on the airline's European and Asian routes. In 1980, the first of six new Airbus A300-B2Ks joined the fleet.

After the start of the Iran–Iraq War in September 1980, Iran Air's domestic and international operations were often subject to cancellation and irregularity, in line with the wartime situation. This continued until August 1988, when a cease-fire agreement took effect. Right from the start of the Iran–Iraq War, Abadan, the gateway to Iran's oil-producing region, lost all its air links, because the airport had to be closed.

The year 1981 saw the name of the airline changed to The Airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran Air carried 1.7 million passengers in that year. In 1990, the first of six Fokker 100 jets was added to the fleet and five more were added later on. In 2001, the airline bought six second-hand Airbus A310 aircraft (five -200 and one -300 series), since the U.S. authorities blocked the planned purchase of any new Airbus A330 units. In 2005, the carrier bought two Airbus A300-600s from Olympic Airlines. In the wake of the growing tension, between the U.S. and Iranian governments, over Iran's nuclear program, the plan to supply Boeing spare parts or aircraft, to upgrade the aging fleet of Iran Air, was blocked by the USA and members of the EU. However a new agreement between Iran and the United States at the end of 2006, has changed that and allowed an overhaul of Iran Air's fleet.[3] The airline is wholly owned by the Government of Iran and has 7,500 employees.

Iran Air family

An Iran Air Airbus A300B4-600 landing at London Heathrow Airport, England. (2008)

Iran Air Cargo

Iran Air Cargo is the freight wing of the airline. In May 2008, it acquired two Airbus A300B4F aircraft to resume freighter operations, which were suspended after the grounding of its single Boeing 747-200F cargo aircraft. Freight is also flown with Iran Air's passenger fleet belly-hold capacity.

Iran Air Tours

Iran Air Tours is a low cost airline, based at the Mashhad International Airport (MHD) and is a subsidiary of Iran Air. Soviet-designed Tu-154M jets are the backbone of this airline, although Iran Air Tours has acquired a number of Airbus A300B4 and MD-83 aircraft on lease and in hybrid livery from Turkey, increasing its flights to domestic cities like Mashhad, Zahedan and Ahvaz.

Iran Air Tours initiated scheduled operations in 1990, taking over the bulk of the domestic services, formerly operated by Iran Air. Iran Air Tours has been responsible for the build-up of an extensive route network, focused on the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, home to the Imam Reza shrine, one of the holiest shrines of the Shi'a Muslims.

Reservations for Iran Air Tours flights can be made via the Iran Air system, which is the only widely available airline reservations system in Iran. The carrier also operates charter flights.

Homa Hotel Group

Homa Hotel Group is a subsidiary company of Iran Air, which owns a chain of five star hotels in the major cities of Iran. Homa Hotels are located in Tehran, Shiraz, Bandar Abbas and Mashhad, where there are two hotels. All the hotels were constructed prior to 1979, with the exception of the second Mashad hotel, built in the late 1990s.

The hotel group was established by the government, after the 1979 Iranian revolution and has more than 800 furnished rooms. Most of the hotels were under private control prior to 1979, but were nationalized soon after. The most famous of these was the Homa Hotel Tehran, which used to be the Tehran Sheraton, prior to being nationalized in 1979. These hotel are all ranked 5-stars, but do not meet international standards in service, decor and facilities.

New livery

In May 2008, the airline introduced a new livery on an Iran Air Cargo Airbus A300B4F, since then they have added two more aircraft wearing different versions of another livery, whether any one of these is to be adopted on the passenger fleet is unknown.


An Iran Air Boeing 747SP at Mehrabad Airport, Iran. (2008)

Hajj and Umrah operations

Hajj charter operations form a major part of Iran Air's annual activities. Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims fly from major cities in Iran to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia's air gateway to Mecca, to take part in pilgrimage ceremonies.

In 2001, Iran Air carried around 60,000 pilgrims to Jeddah, within a span of 40 days. Three hundred and fifty two Hajj charter flights were operated from 17 cities in Iran.

Iran Air also operates charter flights from cities in Iran to Jeddah, during the Umrah season. To deal with the operational requirements and to meet traffic demand, the airline leases aircraft including Boeing 747-200s and Airbus A300B2s.



Iran Air has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:


Iran Air operates the following aircraft (at 1 October 2009):[4]

Iran Air Fleet
Type Total Stored Orders Passenger
Routes Notes
Airbus A320-200 6 0 0 160 Domestic and International 3 are operated by Vertir Airlines
Airbus A300B2 4 0 0 283 Domestic and International
Airbus A300B4 4 0 0 283 Domestic and International
Airbus A300-B4F 2 0 0 freight only Domestic and International Cargo division
Airbus A300-605R 4 0 0 265 International
Airbus A310-231 5 4 0 240 International 2 stored at IKA
2 stored at THR
Airbus A310-311 3 0 0 167-203 International 1 is operated by Vertir Airlines
Boeing 727-286 4 0 0 154 Domestic and International
Boeing 747-186 1 0 0 434 International
Boeing 747-286M Combi 3 2 0 448 International 1 is operated by Vertir Airlines
Boeing 747-21AC 1 0 0 freight only International Cargo division
Boeing 747SP-86 4 0 0 International
Fokker 100 17 2 0 107 Domestic and International 13 leased from Chabahar Airlines
1 operating for Kish Air
2 stored at THR on repair
Tupolev Tu-204 0 0 35 TBA International Five for Iran Air Tours
Total 55 13 35 Last updated: 1 October 2009
  • Iran Air's average fleet age is 21.8 years (as of 21 March 2009).[5]
  • Due to sanctions imposed by the United States government, all Iranian airlines wishing to purchase US-made aircraft can only acquire aircraft which are at least 7 years old and they only can be purchased through a third party, rather than directly from Boeing.
  • The quantity of U.S.-made parts contained in Airbus aircraft means that it is also not possible for Iranian airlines to purchase aircraft directly from Airbus either.
  • In August 2007, the airline announced an order for 18 Tupolev Tu-204-100 aircraft.
  • On 20 December 2006, Iran Air put back into operation one of its Boeing 747-SP aircraft that had been out of operation for many years, after putting it through a major overhaul by the Fajr Aviation & Composites Industry.
  • On 14 August 2007, it was reported[6] that Iran Air had overcome sanctions imposed by the west and that their fleet of A310s are ready to resume service.
  • On 21 May 2008, it was reported[7] that Iran Air may become subject to a new EU sanction, banning all its flights from landing in EU airports. According to Iran Air's managing director Saeed Hesami, EU is citing Iran Air's technical and safety shortcomings as the reason for the imminent ban.

Fleet modernization

  • Iran Air is to begin a partial modernization program of its own fleet and that of its subsidiary Iran Air Tours using new-generation Russian aircraft. Five Tupolev Tu-204-100s will be acquired for Iran Air Tours, while two Ilyushin Il-96-300s will be taken on short-term lease for the airline’s mainline fleet, which could lead to an order for four aircraft. The Tu-204 deal has been disclosed by Moscow-based lessor Ilyushin Finance (IFC), which said that the firm contract would be signed by 15 December 2006, with the deal also including five options. Iran Air expects the five firmly ordered twin-jets to be delivered to Iran Air Tours in the second half of 2008, at a rate of one aircraft per month.
  • Iran Air will take two Ilyushin Il-96-300s on short-term lease from Russia’s KrasAir, in October 2006 and will use these aircraft on a trial basis for up to one year. If they meet its operational requirements, IFC will consider placing an order for a batch of three or four aircraft. Iran Air has also displayed a keen interest in the Sukhoi Superjet 100 and wants to take an in-depth look at the type closer to its roll-out in 2008.
  • In August 2007, the airline purchased 4 Fokker 100s from TAM Airlines of Brazil.
  • Russia’s Ilyushin Finance has signed a preliminary contract with Iran Air Tours at the Dubai Air Show 2007 to supply Iran with 30 Tupolev 204 (Tu-204-100) aircraft. This will increase the total number of Tu204-100s to be delivered to 35. Iran has about a dozen Soviet-built Tu-154 airliners. In 2006, Russia negotiated the sale of five Tu-204s to Iran.
  • From June to August 2007, Iran Air operated an Airbus A340-200, leased from the Venezuelan airliner Conviasa. This event marked the first time in Iran's aviation history that an all-Iranian crew had operated and administered the process of leasing a passenger plane for Iran's national flag carrier.
  • Iran Air has also confirmed orders for 3 A320's from rival airline Mahan Air, due to begin operation in late 2009.
  • Armenia airline Vertir Airlines is operanting an Airbus A310-300, three Airbus A320-200 and a Boeing 747-200 for Iran Air.

Previously operated


Incidents and accidents

  • December 25, 1952; Iran Air Douglas DC-3; Tehran, Iran: 27 fatalities and two survivors.
  • January 21, 1980; Iran Air Boeing 727-86; near Tehran, Iran: The aircraft hit high ground in a snowstorm during the approach to land. All eight crew members and 120 passengers were killed.
  • 3 July 1988; Iran Air Flight 655 was flying over the Persian Gulf on its way to Dubai from Bandar Abbas. According to the U.S. version of events, the USS Vincennes Navy cruiser mistook the airliner for an Iranian F-14 Tomcat and the cruiser shot the airliner down with a missile, killing all 16 crew and 274 passengers. At the time, there were Iranian and American naval skirmishes. Iranians maintain it was an intentional act of barbarism.[9] The United States called the incident a mistake.[10] Furthermore, the United States, through Vice President George H. W. Bush, expressed regret and promised to compensate victims, but that the money would not go through the Iranian government.[11] Newsweek published a long article titled "Sea of Lies" that largely blamed Capt. Will Rogers, the Vincennes’ commander.[12][13]
  • 2 January 2008, an Iran Air Fokker 100 (EP-IDB) plane carrying 100 passengers skidded off the runway after its wing caught fire, when taking off for a domestic flight to Shiraz International Airport from Mehrabad Airport. No-one was injured in the accident, which happened amid heavy snowfall at the airport.[14]
  • On 18 November 2009, Fokker 100 EP-CFO suffered an undercarriage malfunction on take-off from Isfahan International Airport. The aircraft was on a flight to Mehrabad Airport, Tehran when the undercarriage failed to retract. The aircraft landed at Isfahan but was substantially damaged when the left main gear collapsed.[15]

See also


External links

Simple English

Iran Air is an airline based in Iran. It is the flag carrier of Iran, and is owned by the government of Iran.



The airline was started in 1944, and was called the Iranian Airways Company. In 1946, the airline made its first flight. It started by flying only to places in Iran, but soon started flights to other countries. It started by flying Douglas DC-3 airplanes. Later, it bought other types of airplanes. By the late 1950s, Iran Air was moving 80,000 people each year.[1]

In 1961, because the government ordered it, Iran Air combined with another Iranian airline, Persian Air Services. This combined company was owned by the government and called United Iranian Airlines, but it changed its name to Iranian National Airlines. The new airline carried about 142,000 people a year, and by the late 1960s carried 403,000 people.[1]

In the early 1970s, the airline bought five Boeing 747s. After the Islamic Revolution, Iran Air was not allowed to buy planes from the United States, but it still bought planes from Airbus. By the mid 2000s, though, the airline was not able to get enough parts to keep its planes flying, and had to stop flying some of them.[1]

During the early 2000s, Iran Air carried about six million people a year, and an airline it owned, Iran Air Tours, carried two million people. Iran Air had 9,000 people working for it, and made about $407.44 million.[1]


Iran Air has the following types of aircraft in its fleet, as of September 2009:[2]

Aircraft Number in fleet Passengers
Boeing 727 4 154-164
Boeing 747 8 (includes one for freight) 301-437
Fokker 100 16 104
Airbus A300 14 (includes two for freight) 253-295
Airbus A310 3 200-215
Airbus A320 3 147

Major crashes

  • Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down in the Persian Gulf by the USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988, killing 290 people.[3]
  • Iran Air Flight 227 crashed on 9 January 2011 in northwest Iran, killing 77 people.[4]



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