Interestingly, even after long sanctions and diplomatic melt down, they are buying 80 jets from USA (Boeing) and 50-60 jets from EU (Airbus).

Why did Iran order jets from USA and EU when they could have bought jets from Russia (UAC)? Also, why are not Russians desperate to secure the deal?

Note. Those who are saying that Russia can't manufacture large aircraft, take a look at this:

  • 6
    The answer to this is sure to be economics, not politics. "Why are commercial airlines all buying Boeing and Airbus?" will have the same answer as this question.
    – Cyrus
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 10:35
  • 4
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air. Iran already has a fleet of Airbus, so buying more of them is a technically good solution (personnel used to handling them, common spares, etc.). It did also manage Boeings, although they are now retired, so the decission of buying more of them is not surprising, either. And the size of the order makes sense in the context of an aging fleet that has not been getting spare or replacements for many years.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 12:10
  • There doesn't need to be a secret deal. It could be as simple as trying to get involved with politically connected businesses in the US and EU. Unfortunately, the very nature of a secret deal is speculative. Could it exist? Sure. But what could we do in terms of clarifying things? The US signed the Iran nuclear deal because the Obama administration was desperate for a Middle East deal. The EU countries were already interested in the oil. Iran didn't need to bribe either in my opinion. But that doesn't prove anything either way.
    – Brythan
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 15:39
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    Why do we by coffee from Columbia? Because that's where coffee comes from. Commercial Jets come from Boeing and Airbus.
    – user1530
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 3:46
  • 1
    Russia can manufacture airliners, but they're not as fuel efficient as their western counterparts, and their safety record isn't all that great. Mind you, that's just a minor detail... also, they tend to be shorter range aircraft.
    – tj1000
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 21:30

5 Answers 5


This is a matter of economics, not politics: nobody else makes large passenger jets. Antonov's largest seats 99 passengers, Embraer's seats 132, and UAC's seats 145. That's the same size as a small Airbus or Boeing jet. The 777-300ER they're purchasing holds around 400 passengers and has the range to reach almost anywhere in the world non-stop.

The Ilyushin Il-96 and Tupolev Tu-204 aren't possible alternatives, either. The Il-96-300 is produced at a rate of one per year and is smaller and shorter-ranged than a 777 or A330, while the Il-96-400 only exists on paper. The Tu-204 is half the size, has half the range, and is produced at a rate of two per year.

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    This is the correct answer. The question's premise (that "they could have bought...") is false.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 3:39
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    This answer is up-to-date. For the reference, even Aeroflot (Russian state carrier) is not buying Russian-made jets. SSJ-100 are the only Russian jets in the fleet and those are short-range and smaller than B737 and A320. Also, the number of jets Iran ordered (130-140) is greater than the number of Il-96s (30) and Tu-204s (85) ever produced - since 1990. There is simply no capacity for Russia to fulfil that order in the foreseeable future.
    – Denis
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 11:32
  • 1
    So they could have bought 80 Tu-204 instead, to be delivered until 2058.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 23:25
  • (+1) The Il-96 and Tu-204 are also older designs that ought to be vastly less efficient than the Boeing or Airbus alternatives (the Il-96 is a four-engine aircraft “competing” against twin-engine designs!!)
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 19:43

It is hard to answer this objectively. I think this makes sense because most of economical sanctions were coming from USA and EU. What Iran is getting after lifting the sanctions is briefly mentioned here:

The EU will end its embargo of Iranian oil, which should pump more money into the Iranian economy. An increased supply of oil globally, perhaps an increase of a million barrels a day or even more, could well push the price down.

And the EU will, as well, end its banking sanctions, meaning that Iran will again be able to participate in the Swift system of electronic banking -- something that is essential to participation in the global financial system.

It is clearly arguable, but a correlation between a favorable political decision and a major business deal is highly probable.

Also, I think jets quality might play a role here. I know nothing about commercial jets assessment, but a quick search returns this small qualitative top, which clearly shows domination of Airbus and Boeing dominance.


Because Iran was under sanctions by the west for the past 3 decades, therefore Iran couldn't obtained any spare parts for its fleet of American made Boeing, therefore now they've got the chance to buy the new Airbus planes and I don't blame them, you have to consider the passenger safety, over the time they've purchase some Russian made aircraft but was not reliable.


Another reason: if you want to run international air routes, you need to be able to get your jets checked for fitness to fly in your destination countries, for return flights,

Nobody has been offering that service for Russian-built aircraft outside the former USSR for at least a decade. Establishing routes with Russian-built aircraft requires setting up a lot of training and infrastructure. That's not cost-effective.

  • How is Cuba flying Russian crafts?
    – user366312
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 2:52
  • Superjets routinely flew to EU before 2020.
    – alamar
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 7:56

I posted this question in 2017 using my previous profile.

After five years, I see that my allegation was correct and in deed Iran failed to obtain those planes. Therefore, in my opinion, Iran's decision was wrong.

Those who are saying Russian planes are fuel-inefficient or cost ineffective, should remember that - it is better to have a safe-to-fly aircraft than to fly a worn off Boeing or Airbus.

  • 3
    Since you asked the question, 9 Tu-204s have been delivered. 0 Il-96s have been delivered. (source: planespotters.net) The answers were correct: if you're buying new-production large airliners, your options are Airbus, Boeing, or nothing.
    – cpast
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 3:04
  • @cpast, that would be correct only if you have Boeing/Airbus at your disposal. Iran couldn't obtain those planes in the first place.
    – user366312
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 3:08
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    Then your options are basically "nothing." Russian manufacturers just don't build large planes in any significant quantity.
    – cpast
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 3:30

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