Iran Air Said to Prepare to Restart Flights to Japan

Iran Air Said to Prepare to Restart Flights to Japan
Iran Air is preparing to restart flights to Japan following last month’s international deal to end sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program, according to two people familiar with the situation.

The carrier will initially restart flights connecting Tokyo’s Narita airport with Tehran, with a stop in Beijing, on a once-a-week basis, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because a final decision hasn’t been made. The earliest that Iran Air is likely to resume service is next year after ending flights in 2012, the person said.

Iran and Japan also are discussing allowing direct flights between the countries for multiple airlines, and will come to an agreement on this soon, said another person, who asked not to be identified because the information is not public. Japan Airlines Co. stopped direct flights to Tehran in 1980 following the Iranian Revolution the previous year.

The Middle Eastern country placed an outline order in late January for 118 planes from Airbus Group SE worth almost $27 billion at list prices, according to Bloomberg calculations. The deal includes 45 single-aisle planes and 73 wide-body aircraft. The airline is also purchasing 12 A380 superjumbos.

Iran Air’s Chairman and Managing Director Farhad Parvaresh didn’t comment on the timing of any potential resumption of flights to Japan when reached by e-mail.

Aircraft Delivery

“It all depends on the delivery of our planned aircraft,” he said. Iran air currently serves Beijing with Boeing Co. 747s.

An official at Japan’s Transport Ministry said they have received several requests from Iran Air and the Iranian government about resuming flights, but “nothing has been decided yet.” It would be less time-consuming to approve charter flights than regular commercial flights, the official said.

European airlines are readying to restart flights to Iran, with British Airways saying Feb. 3 it will resume service to Tehran in July.

Iran’s minister of economic affairs and finance, Ali Taiebnia, signed an investment agreement Feb. 5 in Tokyo with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to increase economic cooperation between the countries.

The agreement is to help Japanese companies compete for contracts and build facilities in the Middle Eastern country. That in turn will spur demand for flights between the two countries for business officials.

Iran Investment

Iran is an important source of oil for Japan and companies including Cosmo Energy Holdings Co., Chiyoda Corp. and Inpex Corp. are keen to deepen relationships and make deals in the industry.

Chiyoda, a Japanese industrial plant maker, has reached a basic agreement to renovate refineries in the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas, NHK reported last week. It is the first infrastructure order by a Japanese company since sanctions were lifted, the broadcaster said. The Yokohama, Japan-based company, confirmed it is making efforts to develop deals in Iran, while it denied it had reached any agreements with the Iranian government, it said in a statement after the report.

Cosmo Energy will decide to increase Iranian crude purchases if it makes economic sense, Eita Ushioda, a Tokyo- based spokesman for the company, said January.

Inpex, Japan’s biggest energy explorer, is also keen to make investments in Iranian assets, Masahiro Murayama, a managing executive officer at the Tokyo-based company, told reporters Thursday.