Economy, Domestic Economy

Paris Committed to Finalizing Airbus Deal

Paris Committed to Finalizing Airbus DealParis Committed to Finalizing Airbus Deal

France is “committed to its obligations” and is trying to “resolve the remaining issues” regarding the agreement between flag carrier Iran Air and planemaker Airbus, says French Transport Minister Alain Vidalies.

“Iran is willing to play an active role in the international arena in the post-sanctions era,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency in a press briefing after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Abbas Akhoundi in Tehran on Monday.

Soon after the removal of international embargoes on Iran as part of the July nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, Iran Air and Airbus signed a $27 billion deal for the purchase of 118 airbus jetliners.

The deal, however, remains to be finalized due to financing issues, as ambiguities related to a set of remaining US-imposed sanctions against Iran continue. Many European banks have been cautious in engaging with Iran due to fear of punishment by the United States.

“France was among the countries that took the lead in resuming ties with Iran,” Akhoundi said, hoping that the Airbus deal will be finalized soon.

In a separate press gathering on Monday, Ali Abedzadeh, the head of Iran Civil Aviation Organization, said Iran is facing no problems in terms of providing international finance as “China and Europeans have expressed readiness to finance Iran’s agreements".

Tehran and Paris signed two memorandums of understanding regarding aviation and rail industries at the conclusion of the Monday meeting.

> 1st Tehran-Paris Air France Flight in 8 Years

The French minister, along with a delegation of representatives of more than a dozen French companies, including France's national state-owned railroad company SNCF, concessions and construction company Vinci and French multinational company operating in the worldwide rail transport markets Alstom, landed in the Iranian capital on Sunday, on board the first Air France flight between Paris and Tehran in eight years, AFP reported.

The airline’s route had been suspended since 2008 because of western sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. However, sanctions have been lifted under an accord with world powers that has now been in force for three months.

Flight AF738 from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle touched down at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport at 1530 GMT, 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

At a welcoming ceremony, Vidalies said he was “proud of the resumption of these direct flights” and said being “able to move between Paris and Tehran was crucial ... for entering into partnerships”.

Ali Abedzadeh, Iran’s deputy transport minister, said he was happy to see the Air France service resume.

Frederic Gagey, the airline’s chief executive, spoke of its “great pride in returning to Iran”.

Italy’s Alitalia, Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa of Germany already fly to Tehran, and British Airways is planning to resume its London-Tehran service in July.

> EU Offers ATM Agreement

European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc met with Akhoundi in Tehran on Saturday and called on Iran to join the EU’s horizontal air traffic management agreement.

A horizontal agreement is an international agreement negotiated by the European Union Commission on behalf of EU member states to bring all bilateral air services agreements between the EU and a third country in line with EU law.

Akhoundi welcomed Bulc’s offer under the condition that Iran’s membership in the agreement would not cancel the agreements and contracts the country signed separately with European countries.

Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan also said if Iran is to join the agreement, the country should be “treated equally” as with other countries in terms of air services across Europe.

Under nuclear sanctions imposed on Iran’s aviation industry, Iranian airlines faced a fueling ban in some European airports. The restrictions were mostly lifted after the removal of sanctions.

According to Kashan, the ban is still in place in some EU airports.

“Homa (Iran Air) is not able to receive fuel and make payments in some European countries, which is not acceptable for us.”

CEO of Iran Air, Farhad Parvaresh, however, told a gathering of reporters on Monday that the carrier’s fueling problem has been mostly resolved and that “only three fueling stations” are yet to be resume cooperation with Iran.

In 2010, the European Union banned most planes operated by Iran’s state-owned flag carrier, Iran Air, from its skies in 2010 because of concerns over their safety.

The New York Times reported on April 16 that the EU is now prepared to loosen some of those restrictions as the easing of sanctions gradually allows new planes and spare parts to enter Iran after decades of isolation.

Kashan said: “Iran’s fleet is now dilapidated and may not be on par with today’s standards. Therefore, we should be given enough time to upgrade.”