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ATR: Iran Plane Order Remains Intact Despite US Policy

ATR chief executive Christian Scherer says he expects a total of eight aircraft will have been delivered by the end of 2017, and the remaining 12 ordered planes in 2018
ATR: Iran Plane Order Remains Intact Despite US Policy - Photo Sadra MosalaATR: Iran Plane Order Remains Intact Despite US Policy - Photo Sadra Mosala

The CEO of Franco-Italian planemaker ATR says its contract with Iran stands firm and that deliveries will be made as per schedule.

"Despite uncertainties over the Iran nuclear deal following President Donald Trump's statements, our delivery schedule to Iran Air remains unchanged," Christian Scherer said on the sidelines of Dubai Airshow 2017, as reported by French weekly magazine Air & Cosmos.

The Iranian flag carrier Iran Air signed a firm contract with ATR mid-April to purchase 20 of the planemaker's regional aircraft, with the option of adding 20 more in the future.

Ever since Iran Air has been delivered six of the ordered aircraft.

"We expect to reach eight aircraft delivered by the end of the year. The other twelve ATR 72-600 will be delivered in 2018," Scherer added.

Trump on Oct. 13 refused to certify that Iran was complying with the nuclear deal the country signed with world powers, including the US, in 2015 (known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), even though international inspectors said it was. The US decision has thrown into doubt the future of the pact negotiated by Iran, the EU and six major powers, namely Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. Congress has until mid-December to decide whether to reimpose sanctions lifted under the deal, something few diplomats expect.

Europe, nonetheless, has made it clear that it is going to stick to the nuclear deal.

Speaking at a security conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, earlier this month, the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, renewed the bloc's commitment to ensure that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will continue to be fully implemented "by all and in all its parts".

Beside the ATR order, Iran Air has also signed contracts with Boeing and Airbus to purchase a total of 180 planes. Airbus has delivered three aircraft, but the first Boeing delivery is scheduled for April 2018.

The Iranian Airline's CEO Farzaneh Sharafbafi, who was also at the Dubai show, has said Iran Air plans to launch a subsidiary under the title of “IranAir Regional” to carry out the service to neighboring countries using the ATR aircraft it has purchased.

She says the flag carrier has plans to use its ATR fleet in Ardebil-Baku and Ardebil-Van flights in the near future.

Sources familiar with the issue told the Financial Tribune that the regional airline is set to be based in Tehran, Mashhad, Rasht, Bandar Abbas and Ahvaz, though the plan is not finalized yet.

“The aircrafts could also be used for domestic flights,” Sharafbafi said.

The ATR CEO has made it clear that Iran is an ideal market for its twin-engine turboprop airliners.

"Iran is very suitable for ATR, because there are a multitude of small and medium cities with a territory to open up. In parallel with Iran Air, Aseman Airlines is the operator of the ATR 42 and we are in discussion to have the company switch to ATR 72", Scherer noted at the Dubai show.

The numbers "72" and "42" are derived from the aircraft's standard seating configuration in a passenger-carrying configuration, which could seat 72-78 and 40-52 passengers respectively.

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