July 22, 2015

FLYING THE FRIENDLY SKIES:

Plane speaking after Iran's nuclear deal  (The Economist, Jul 21st 2015)

 For decades, Iranian airlines were forced into the black market when sourcing, and repairing, their planes. Elaborate paper-trails conspired to throw America off the scent of illicit transactions. Mahan Air, the country's second largest carrier, pulled off perhaps the biggest such deal in May--two months before the nuclear agreement was signed--when it used an Iraqi front to acquire nine Airbus jets.

These shady deals have kept Iranians flying, but at a cost. There have been 28 civilian aircraft crashes in Iran since the turn of the century, according to the Aviation Safety Network, claiming more than 500 lives. The average age of an aircraft operated by Iran Air, the country's flag carrier, is 26 years. Across the Persian Gulf in Dubai, Emirates Airline's much larger fleet has a mere seven-year vintage. Far from grounding Iran's airlines--as America originally set out to do, alleging misappropriation by the military--sanctions simply forced them to deploy older, less safe aircraft. Each time one fell out of the sky, Iranians rallied behind their government and blamed the Great Satan for endangering civilians.

America's political misstep was reversed last year, when temporary sanctions-relief allowed Iran Air to begin buying spare parts for its creaking planes. President Obama's administration is now poised to complete the volte-face. America will "allow for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran" states the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action released by the nuclear negotiating teams. As well as improving the lot of Iranian passengers, this could earn tens of billions of dollars for Western aircraft manufacturers, including American firms such as Boeing. Billions more will fall into the hands of Western spare-parts suppliers, lessors and financiers, IT service-providers, aircraft interior designers, and so forth.

Posted by at July 22, 2015 4:25 PM
  

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