Iran crash is first fatal incident for Ukrainian airline

KIEV, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737-800 crashed in Iran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Iranian state TV. It was the first fatal crash for Kiev-based UIA.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, though Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency cited unspecified technical problems.

Founded in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, planes operated by loss-making privately-held UIA, which is based out of Kiev’s Boryspil airport, had suffered technical problems in flight over the years but had never crashed before.

UIA says on its website it had been awarded the IOSA - the IATA Operational Safety Audit certificate - meaning its operational and safety standards were fully in line with international requirements.

The airline, which operates domestic and international flights, has a fleet of 42 planes made up, according to it own website, of various Boeings, including 737-800s and 737-900s. It also operates Embraer aircraft.

Financial problems forced it to scale back its route network last year.

UIA is in the process of trying to modernise its fleet and has ordered three Boeing 737 MAX aircraft which it has not yet taken delivery of due to continuing safety concerns over the MAX project. (Reporting by Kiev bureau Writing by Andrew Osborn Editing by Andrew Heavens)