Even as operating costs increase, government regulators keep domestic airfares artificially low to please the public, and pressure airlines to operate money-losing flights to small towns and secondary airports with few passengers to "keep the parliament members from that area happy," said the industry insider.
"Authorities' indifference to repeated requests by airline firms to raise ticket prices has had an effect on recent plane crashes," Mehdi Aliyari, the head of the professional association of air transport companies, told the newspaper Jomhouri Eslami in late July. "When the government artificially keeps the price of air tickets fixed and airline companies' warnings on raising ticket prices are ignored, air accidents are not implausible."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, October 07, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
Iranian aviation: A Sept. 15 article in Section A about the poor safety record of Iran's civil aviation industry said the managing director of Aria Air and his son were among those killed in a plane crash in late July. The son was not on the flight and was not killed.
Some Iranian officials say the country increasingly relies on Russian planes because U.S. sanctions on Iran forbid it to buy new Boeing or Airbus aircraft. Both the Aria Air crash and the July 15 crash of a Caspian Airlines flight that killed all 168 people aboard involved Russian planes.
Aviation professionals said they didn't think Russian planes were inherently any worse than the Boeing and Airbus planes used in the West.
"If they're flown properly, they're like tanks," Butterworth-Hayes said. "They're incredibly robust airplanes."
But others said the post-sales training, support and parts provided for Russian aircraft were far weaker than those for Western planes.
"When an airline is operating Russian-type aircraft, the safety level of its operations will definitely suffer because the operations and technical safety will not be as good as an airline with an all-Western fleet," the Iranian airline source said.