Four Airbus A340-300s have been purchased by an undisclosed Iranian airline in breach of international sanctions.
A spokesman for Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization confirmed the deal on December 29, 2022. The aircraft had been previously operated by Turkish Airlines but were sold and left the carrier’s fleet in 2018 and 2019. The aircraft were later registered by their new owners in Burkina Faso.
The quadjets departed from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on December 23 enroute to Uzbekistan but landed in Iran. It is not known how the sanctions were circumvented.
Due to sanctions, Iranian carriers had been forced to keep airliners flying which had been acquired before the Islamic revolution of 1979 whilst also finding means of acquiring more modern aircraft.
In 2015, a deal was agreed between Iran and the United States, and five other nations for it to limit its nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Following this agreement Iran Air placed a number of aircraft orders. The carrier signed a commitment with Airbus in January 2016 for 21 A320ceos, 24 A320neos, 27 A330ceos, 18 A330neos (-900s), 16 A350-1000s and 12 A380 aircraft.
However, it is thought the deal was revised when a firm contract was signed in December that year. A statement from the manufacturer at the time stated the order covered 46 A320 Family, 38 A330 Family and 16 A350 XWB airliners.
Turboprop manufacturer ATR revealed Iran Air had placed 20 firm orders for ATR 72-600s and options for a further 20 airframes. Across the pond, Boeing announced a deal with Iran Air for 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 15 777-300ERs and 15 777-9s.
However, in May 2018 the then US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear agreement with Iran. Due to the level of US components used by all three manufacturers this meant no more aircraft from these orders could be delivered. By the time the new restrictions were imposed 13 ATR 72s, two Airbus A330s and an A321 had been delivered to Iran Air.