Economy, Domestic Economy

Iran to Buy 114 Airbus Jets

Iran to Buy 114 Airbus JetsIran to Buy 114 Airbus Jets

Iran has reached an agreement with the European consortium Airbus to buy 114 passenger planes for state carrier Iran Air, the minister of roads and urban development announced on Saturday.

Abbas Akhoundi added that the first shipment of planes will arrive in Iran before March 20 to upgrade Iran’s aging fleet.

Iran has said it is looking to buy 400 passenger planes over the next decade, IRNA reported.

The country later raised its aircraft requirement to at least 581 planes, Mehr News Agency quoted Maqsoud As’adi-Samani, secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines, as saying.

Akhoundi made the statements before the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Saturday that Iran has complied with the terms of an international agreement to limit its nuclear program, clearing the way for sanctions to end, as part of the July 14 nuclear deal.

Airbus did not confirm a formal agreement with Tehran, nor did it comment on any discussions with Iran Air.

“When the Iran sanctions are lifted, Airbus Group is ready to support Iranian civil and para-public transportation sector development in strict compliance with all international laws,” a spokeswoman for Toulouse, France-based Airbus said in an emailed statement.

Para-public transportation refers to helicopters used by police and border-control agencies.

Iran’s aviation industry has suffered as a result of sanctions over the past three decades. Out of Iran’s 250 commercial planes, about 150 are flying while the rest are grounded due to lack of spare parts.

Akhoundi said Iran is already planning to renovate its aviation industry by leasing planes since the country’s airlines lack the financial means to buy too many aircraft at once. He urged Iranian carriers to take steps to upgrade their fleets in the post-sanctions era.

“With the implementation of the nuclear deal, we will enter a new atmosphere in our interaction with the outside world and subsequently develop our aviation industry,” he said.

Bloomberg quoted an Iranian official, who asked not to be identified “because the details are private”, as saying that the deal includes a mix of new and used jets from the A320 family and the out-of-production A340s.

“The first deliveries are due as early as July,” he said.

Iran also is interested in Airbus wide-body planes, including A350s and the A380 double-decker, as it seeks to add destinations in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe to directly serve the Iranian population scattered there rather than connecting through Dubai or Istanbul hubs, the Iranian official said.

Iran is also considering the Boeing Co. 737 narrow-body jet to serve the domestic market and twin-aisle 777s for long-haul routes, the official said. It’s also looking at smaller planes from Bombardier Inc. and Embraer SA.

A Bombardier spokeswoman couldn’t be reached for comment outside business hours. The Embraer press office said the company will be ready for discussions when sanctions are lifted.

On Saturday, US President Barack Obama lifted a decade-long ban on sales of civilian aircraft to Iran, which means the largest American planemaker Boeing is now free to enter the competition to tap Iran’s just-opened-up market of 50 airports in a nation of 80 million people.