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Civil aviation in Iran suffering from sanctions

Tehran, Dec 31, IRNA -- Managing Director of Iran National Carrier (Iran Air) Davoud Keshavarzian said here Tuesday that sanctions on airplane purchases, price stability and economic system are the most important impediments facing civil aviation in Iran.

"Sanctions prevent Iran from purchasing aircraft, even if only 10 percent of the parts are US-made," he told IRNA.

On the rise in domestic flight fares, he said transportation fares are determined based on cabinet directives and implemented by the Road and Transport Ministry.

Keshavarzian said the Economic Council has approved a 21 percent increase in transportation rates and a Majlis oversight commission has also approved it.

Following the liberalization of foreign exchange rates, the airlines have been calling for increase in plane ticket prices, "which was finally approved by the Road and Transport Ministry."

Alluding to the air fares in the previous years, he said three years ago when the rial/dollar exchange rate stood at rls 3,000 and fuel prices at rls 350, "the Economic Council set rls 11,800 or dlrs 33 for one-hour of domestic flight."

Before the cabinet directive, the one-hour rate for domestic air flights equalled rls 135,000 or less than dlrs 18 and "now the new rate is rls 203,000 or dlrs 25.5."

Keshavarzian further said instances where the passengers are entitled to financial damages due to flight delays, have to be explicitly printed on tickets, "otherwise the airlines are not liable to reimburse fares or pay financial damages to passengers."

Meanwhile, Keshavarzian said earlier in November that a plan to buy four Airbus passenger planes from France was cancelled, saying US economic sanctions have disrupted the sales process.

The Persian-language daily `Iran' quoted Keshavarzian as saying that because of US economic sanctions the Islamic Republic is not currently able to buy Western-made airplanes. The sanctions have also created a major obstacle to renovating the Iranian air fleet, he added.

He said that after the visit by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to Paris in 2000, Iran Air concluded a contract with the country to buy four Airbus planes, but was prevented from finalizing the deal until 'appropriate conditions are prepared'.

A report in the daily Frankfurter Rundschau earlier in the year pointed to Iran Air as among the few airlines worldwide, to have installed some of the most sophisticated flight safety instruments which play a crucial role in preventing air disasters.

The study found that Iran Air had three of the most important flight alert systems, namely the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) and the Windshear Alert System (PWW).

It added that only a few international airlines, among them Lufthansa, had installed these alert systems in all their planes.

Iran Air has not had so far a major crash on its foreign routes as a result of pilot error or technical difficulties.

The report also pointed to sky marshalls on Iran Air flights, saying the Iranian national carrier initiated this program before the September 11 terror attacks when many airlines began to hire marshalls.

Official: Antonov-140 plane crash was due to pilot error

Tehran, Dec 31, IRNA -- Head of Iran's Aviation Organization Rouhoddin Aboutallebi said here Tuesday that the crash last week of the Ukrainian plan Antonov-140 was due to pilot error.

He told IRNA that the two black boxes which relay information on the aircraft's altitude, speed, direction and engine power have been recovered.

He said the contents of the black boxes will be carefully reviewed in Ukraine and results revealed in the near future.

Aboutallebi, also Deputy Road and Transportation Minister, had harsh words for some newspapers on reports pinning the blame of the crash on heavy air-traffic and the faulty aircraft maintenance.

"These assertions run contrary to the Ukrainian road and transportation minister's comments pointing to pilot error as the cause of the crash," he underlined.

He said that these statements inculcate needless concerns on the part of the public, adding, "In conversation with over 15 Ukrainian officials they all expressed satisfaction over the maintenance work of Iranian aircraft.

"This proves the quality of the work performed by the aviation organization's maintenance crew," he said.

An Antonov An-140 plane crashed into mountains as it made a descent to land in Shahin-Shahr in central Iran at 19:30 hours (1600 GMT) last Monday.

It was carrying Ukrainian specialists to inaugurate a new aircraft that Antonov had built.

Initial reports put the death toll at 48 people, including a child and a woman. But, it was revised later after Ukrainian officials said four of those supposed to board the ill-fated plane had cancelled their trips.

Iranian rescue workers found all the bodies of the victims, mostly mutilated and charred because of the fire which broke out after the crash, and transferred them to morgues.

The Antonov An-140 plane, which had taken off from Kharkiv in Ukraine before refuelling in the Black Sea city of Trabzon in Turkey, crashed into Karkas ranges near the Khavas-e Tarash region in the Baqerabad village in Iran.

All those killed in the crash were officials of the Antonov company which produces the twin turbo-props with a range of 2,100 kilometers before refuelling.

Several Iranian officials, including President Mohammad Khatami, have offered condolences to Ukrainian and Russian governments and the bereaved families of the victims.

A team of Ukrainian flight experts flew to Iran Wednesday to join an investigation to establish the cause of a plane crash in which 44 people were killed late Monday in central Isfahan province.

The team was led by Ukrainian Minister of Industrial Policies Anatoli Mialytsia, the Interfax news agency said. Itar-Tass said it included 36 experts of Transport Ministry as well as Antonov and Kharkov companies which had built the ill-fated aircraft.

... Payvand News - 1/1/03 ... --

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