MIAMI – A lot has been said about Iran’s controversial upgrade of its airliner fleet. They have taken another step with a deal valued at up to $1 billion to buy planes from a joint venture of Airbus SE and Leonardo SpA.
ATR said Iran Air had signed an order for 20 ATR 72-600 aircraft and has agreed to options for 20 more. Deliveries could begin “within weeks” and be completed next year, the company said.
As the Wall Street Journal stated, European and Asian firms have flocked into Iran after the removal of sanctions on the country. American companies have largely held back, unsure about whether President Donald Trump would try to alter the pact or otherwise discourage closer business ties.
Otherwise, it is notable that Iran is an attractive market for the industry since they have a large fleet of obsolete planes, this after several decades of sanctions that made it difficult for Iranian carriers to buy new jets and aircraft parts.
Aircraft contracts, including those involving Boeing Co., are among the highest-profile deals between western companies and Iran after foreign powers lifted many economic sanctions last year in exchange for restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Boeing this month agreed to sell up to 60 single-aisle planes to a second Iranian airline, Iran Aseman Airlines, after last year finalizing a $16.6 billion deal with the country’s flag carrier Iran Air for 80 planes. The Manufacturer is still awaiting final approval from the U.S. Treasury for those sales.
ATR said it had all the necessary licenses to start shipping its 70-seat turboprop planes which typically are used on shorter routes. Parent Airbus in January began delivering planes to Iran Air after last year, finalizing the sale of 100 jetliners.
Some U.S. lawmakers remain opposed to the transactions, accusing Iran of using commercial jetliners to ship money and weapons to support terrorist activities. Iran has denied it supports terrorist groups.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) sent a letter on April 10 to President Trump asking the administration to block U.S. companies from selling planes to Iran.
“We urge you to suspend current and future licenses for aircraft sales to commercial Iranian airlines until your administration conducts a comprehensive review of their role in supporting Iran’s illicit activity,” the lawmakers wrote.