The European Union (EU) is reportedly considering removing its air travel restrictions on Iranian national carrier, Iran Air.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the EU will send aviation security experts to Iran in May to investigate the airline’s security status.
Iran Air was banned by the European bloc in 2010 over ‘safety’ issues with its planes, said Jakub Adamowicz, a spokesman for the European Commission.
Twelve of the airline’s passenger aircraft however were exempted from the ban, allowing the Iranian flag-carrier to maintain some service into Europe.
“What will happen now is that there will be technical assessments in May, to see if Iran Air solved the issues. These are technical discussions, not a political decision. The safety of flights is not conditioned by the nationality of an airline,” Adamowicz said.
Iran Air said in January that European airports had started refueling Iranian planes a week after the implementation of a nuclear agreement between Iran and the permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, which removed anti-Iran sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.
The latest EU announcement comes after eight European commissioners traveled to Tehran over the weekend to look at ways to boost ties between Iran and the union.
The two sides announced a string of joint projects – from the energy sector to migration and joint research work – in a bid to broaden bilateral relationships.
Iran’s current civil aviation fleet consists of some 250 aircraft with an average age of 20 years, of which 100 are in storage.
The country will need hundreds of commercial jets of various models, and has been in talks with both Airbus and Boeing to acquire aircraft under lease or sale/leaseback deals.
In January, Iran signed a major deal worth over $27 billion for the purchase of 118 planes from Airbus. The deal, which is yet to be finalized, was signed during a landmark trip to Paris by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.