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Recyclers keen on scrapping Iran’s ageing airliners

Iran – Boosted by the recent lifting of economic sanctions, Iran has been making serious progress in purchasing new aircraft to replace its ageing fleet. At the same time, the Iranian government is facing the challenge of mounting numbers of end-of-life planes piling up next to airstrips all over the country, as Recycling International learned during a recent visit.

Driving from Imam Khomeini International Airport to Tehran, you pass an open field not far from the terminal where some 25 end-of-life aircraft are parked.’These are all waiting to be scrapped and we would be happy to do the job’, says Ali Parivand, commercial manager at Taha Sanat, a major Tehran-based car recycler.

The company claims to be ‘exploring opportunities’ for participating in the scrapping of the planes. A key requirement is to use ‘the right equipment such as specialised shears to cut the aircraft into pieces before transporting the materials to our facilities for further processing’, says Parivand.

Parked next to airstrips all over Iran, a total of 100 end-of-life airplanes are currently waiting to be scrapped, estimates Manochehr Oliazadeh, projects director at Canada-based company Hatch. ‘But this number will increase rapidly given that Iran will have to buy so many new planes,’ he told Recycling International on the sidelines of the Base Metals Conference, held in Tehran in early September.

Tehran wants to buy up to 500 aircraft over the next decade to rejuvenate its ageing fleet. Airbus will sell 118 planes and a deal has also been struck with French-Italian ATR to buy 40 regional planes; other deals are in the works with Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer while negotiations are also taking place with Boeing.

Decades of sanctions have left Iran’s national airline Iran Air with one of the oldest aircraft fleets in the world, featuring museum-vintage aircraft such as a 39-year-old Boeing 747SP, believed to be the only passenger aircraft of its type still in service. Blocked from ordering Western-built jets for three decades, Iran Air and the country’s 15 other carriers have been extending the lives of their obsolete planes while scouring the market for second-hand ones.

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