After the recent Iran Air Tours Tu-154M crash, a decision was made by the aviation minister that all Soviet built aircraft currently flying within Iran would be replaced. Considering that airlines such as Kish Air, Caspian Airlines, Qeshm Air, Iran Air Tours, Tehran Airways and others have nothing but Tupolev, Antonov and Yakovlev products in their fleet, I got to wondering what they would replace them with. Aircraft such as the Yak-40 could easily be replaced by the IRAN-140 (a domestically licence-built version of the An-140). Then I got to wondering what would replaced the Tu-154s and Yak-42s. The airlines mentioned above to not have the required financing or money to buy Airbus products. Boeing products are out of the question due to embargoes. Embraer and Canadair products are too small to be able to effectively replace the larger aircraft.
Then I see this today via avia.ru/AFP:
Iran has decided to buy Russian Tu-204 and Tu-334 civil aircraft, according to the Russian lawmaker Dmitry Rogozin, who had just returned from Tehran late Tuesday.
The Tu-204 airplanes would be used to boost Iran`s domestic and foreign flights, which had been using Russian aircraft for over 30 years, said Rogozin who heads the foreign affairs committee in Russia`s lower house of parliament.
Iran also expressed ``great interest in setting up a joint consortium for manufacturing Tu-334 parts under our license, and to buy those planes, too,`` the lawmaker added as quoted by the Interfax news agency.
The issue would be more thoroughly discussed at the April meeting of the intergovernmental committee aimed at boosting bilateral ties between Russia and Iran.
Rogozin and a group of Russian lawmakers were in Tehran to discuss the future of Afghanistan and ways to step up cooperation in providing aid for the war-torn country.
Iran and Russia both supported the Northern Alliance which ousted Afghanistan`s fundamentalist Taliban militia as part of the US-led campaign.
This is absolutely great news for the Tu-204 program, if in fact this plan is fair dinkum and goes ahead as reported.
As per my latest JP Airline Fleets, there are currently the following Tu-154s flying in Iran:
Aria Air Tour - 1 x Tu-154M
Caspian Airlines - 4 x Tu-154M
Iran Air Tours - 10 x Tu-154M (was 11 until the recent crash)
Kish Air - 4 x Tu-154M
Qeshm Air - 2 x Tu-154M
Mahan Air - not listed, but I know that have at least 1 x Tu-154M
If this does go ahead, seeing as most of the Tu-154Ms currently flying in Iran are leased (by the looks of it, the majority being from VARZ, I would probably suggest that any Tu-204s which are ordered would also be leased. Maybe these will be some of the aircraft which the Egyptian KATO Group has recently "ordered" from the Aviastar factory in Ulyanovsk? Would they be -100 models with PS engines or -120 models with RR engines? Guesses anyone?
Also, an Iranian order for the Tu-334 is pretty much the shot in the arm which the aircraft needs. Whether Iran would be able to licence build the aircraft in Iran, or just participate in manufacturing certain parts, is yet to be seen.
The Tu-334 also has the possibility of replacing older aircraft in the fleets of both Iran Air and Iran Aseman Airlines. Aircraft such as the 737-200, 727 (although the Tu-204 could also replace this), F28 and maybe even IR's F100s.
Lets hope for the sake of the Russian aviation industry that the Iranians do end up with Tu-204s and Tu-334s some time in the near future. Now, if only the Iranian foreign minister can reschedule his visit to Moscow in a timely manner, so that the Russians have the prime opportunity to get much needed orders.