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Iran nominates woman to head national carrier IranAir

Iran nominates woman to head national carrier IranAir
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Iran has nominated Farzaneh Sharafabadi as CEO of national flag-carrier IranAir following weeks of doubt whether the government would ratify the move, the official news channel of the airline reported on July 16.

Sharafbafi, who is already a senior board member, was the likely successor to Parvaresh following consultations between senior council members and the government. She is also the first Iranian woman with a PhD in aerospace. She has already implemented several aviation projects and has taught various aerospace courses.

IranAir has begun its long project to pull itself out of obscurity following years of under investment due to sanctions throttling plane purchases and poor management by state interference.

With the move to appoint Sharafabadi on July 16 as the new CEO, the airline looks to overhaul its weak offering following the recent delivery of three Airbus A320 jets to the country. Another 100 or more planes are expected over the next decade.

Speaking to Iranian media on the sidelines of the appointing ceremony, held with Iranian transport minister Abbas Akhoundi, the new CEO said, “I hope this will promote the role of women in Iran’s aviation industry and make them proud.”

About her plans for the airline, Sharafabadi noted that the company has a lot of work cut out for it with regards to planes in its old fleet which are on average 25 years old.

She added her primary goal is to improve the overall image of the airline to give it a competitive edge against regional and global players like Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Women are playing an increasingly prominent role across all of Iran’s industries and sectors. Iran, unlike its Persian Gulf Arab neighbors to the south grants women full rights to own and operate businesses. For more than 15 years, women have outnumbered men in university applications with successive governments having to put ‘female quotas’ in place to allow young men to apply for the same courses. From oil, aviation, e-commerce to traditional retail women are running companies with no obstructions to their dominance.

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In recent years the Rouhani government has acknowledged the growing contribution of women to the society and now offers tax exemptions for female business owners to work from home.

The growing role of women in Iranian business, however, remains contentious in some sections of the traditional society, with female unemployment double that of males. However, necessity has forced many would-be housewives into work, with the cost of living high in several cities like Tehran and Tabriz.

Subjects like maternity leave remain contentious for many women and companies alike, as many bosses do not respect the current 90-day law and often sack female workers when they announce their pregnancies.

The previous CEO of the airline, Farhad Parvaresh, was recently nominated as Iran’s representative to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Canada.

As part of IranAir’s overhaul strategy, the company aims to purchase more than 100 new aircraft over the next decade, with seven new planes so far received from ATR and Airbus.

Christian Scherer, CEO of ATR, reportedly said at the handover: “There are still historic moments in aviation, and this is one of them. We are proud and gratified that our ATR aircraft are providing the solution to Iran’s significant needs in regional connectivity.”

“As Iran’s travelling public gains access to an increased supply of air transportation, it will benefit from the highest standards of comfort, efficiency and reliability with the ATRs we are delivering today and over the coming months,” he added.

Given the continuing friction between Tehran and Washington, doubts remain over US manufacturer Boeing’s plans to deliver 80 aircraft to Iran over the next few years. However, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told Bloomberg on May 1 that “steady progress” was being made to completing the first delivery in 2018.

In early April, US Senator John McCain – usually a staunch critic of the Iranian regime – spoke up for a deal made between Aseman Airlines and Boeing for the purchase of 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, describing it as perfectly legal.

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