The Iranian government's economic council has given the go-ahead for the purchase of six Airbus A330 planes, television reported Sunday, March 11.
No further details were given on the deal, although it follows a preliminary agreement to buy four of the medium haul planes during a visit to France in October 1999 by President Mohammad Khatami, who also chairs the economic council.
Foreign purchases need approval by the economic council for the monies to be made ready, and this deal was approved a council meeting Saturday, the television reported.
The news comes after the head of Iran's civil aviation authority, Behzad Mazaheri, said recently that Iran planned to buy Airbus A330 planes at a cost of $720 million. Industry experts estimate that Iran needs to spend some seven billion dollars to buy new planes to update its fleet.
The state airline Iran Air has around 30 planes, mostly bought from the US Boeing corporation before the Islamic revolution of 1979, and its fleet needs renewing to meet the growing demand of the country.
The planes are in an increasingly poor state of repair since the break in diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington in 1980, and do not meet the safety standards required in Europe.
Iran is soon due to start using Antonov AN-140 planes built in Iran under Ukrainian license. The first test flight of this plane, dubbed Iran-140, went ahead in February near Isfahan. It is the first of series of two-engined propeller planes to be built by a subsidiary of the defense ministry in a joint venture with Ukraine. — (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)