October 16, 2012 Iranian Aviation, a shell game.
People and countries in the west have a hard time dealing with Iran. That goes double for American’s who are used to hearing Iran’s ever popular single “Death to America.” Whether or not Iran is misunderstood or a threat world peace is immaterial to the western response. Most western countries have either established or gone along with trade embargos placed on Iran. As this is an aviation blog, the embargo is that no one may sell any aircraft to Iran or Iranian interest an aircraft that has 10% or more U.S. made parts. Boeing and Airbus Planes all exceed 10%, so it is illegal to sell them to Iran.
For Iranian carriers, Mahan and Iran air, this represents a problem. This limits their ability to modernize their fleet. They are left with three options. First, they can lease aircraft to get around the sales provisions. Next, they can buy from other manufacturers, Tupolev for example. Finally, they can make shady brokered deals.
Both Iran and Mahan Air have gone the shady deals route. The main way those two can acquire second hand aircraft is by getting a third party broker. For example, in 2006 United Airlines, yes the United Airlines, sold four 747-400 aircraft to a Moldovan airline called “Blue Sky Airlines.” Well they were painted up in the Blue Sky livery, re-registered and immediately sold to Mahan Airlines. There wasn’t anything that proved United knew where the aircraft were going to end up. At the end of the day the broker a British concern was fined 17 million dollars. There is an accusation that Mahan Air “stole” those aircraft from Blue Sky, using a forged bill of sale. This seems ridiculous, even though the aircraft are being kept within Iran.
Iran Air, has recently been acquiring second hand A320s that are all ex Iberia. This deal was brokered through an African airline, though the temporary registration was listed out of the UAE. There are also rumors out of Flight Global, that they are looking to pick up some ex Qantas 747-300s. Again this deal, if it is real, is being brokered through the Middle East. The moral here is that sanctions do not work. In order for them to work all countries have to be willing to agree to them and enforce them. Otherwise you get what is going on here, a third party country brokering the deal, willing to tell the U.S. to take a hike.