Lawmakers Irked by Lack of Progress in Aircraft Deals

Lawmakers Irked by Lack of Progress in Aircraft Deals  Lawmakers Irked by Lack of Progress in Aircraft Deals

Lawmakers frustrated with the failure of the world's two largest plane makers to meet commitments to their deals with Iran, urged the government to take action.

State-run carrier Iran Air struck provisional agreements with Boeing and Airbus earlier this year for the purchase of passenger aircraft.

As the US Treasury Department decides whether to license the sales to Iran, US opponents of last year's nuclear pact with the Islamic Republic have launched a campaign against the deals.

The international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program made such sales possible by easing sanctions on Tehran.

But some members of the US Congress who oppose it want to block proposed sales of some 200 jetliners, worth about $50 billion at list prices, to revamp Iran Air's aging fleet.

Since it is based in Chicago, Boeing must obtain a license from the Treasury before the sale can go through. France-based Airbus must also obtain a license, as would virtually any other aircraft maker, because its planes contain more than 10% US content.

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Commenting on the issue, some lawmakers pointed to the two companies' lack of commitment, noting that it is time to consider other planemakers.

"We should find another country with which to sign deals," Eqbal Mohammadian told ICNA on Wednesday.

Mehrdad Lahouti concurred with Mohammadian, but noted, "Western countries, which manufacture the safest airplanes, are the best to purchase from. Their behavior of breaking promises should not justify buying substandard aircraft," he added.

Iran needs an estimated 400 jets to renew its fleet after decades of sanctions and to prepare for projected growth.

Another parliamentarian highlighted the need to achieve self-sufficiency by securing access to modern technology for the manufacture and repair of spare parts.

Out of Iran's 250 commercial planes, about 150 are flying while the rest are grounded due to lack of spare parts, according to Reuters.

Under a memorandum of agreement with Boeing, Iran Air is to buy a total of 80 aircraft from the aerospace company and lease a further 29 with its support.

Airbus also agreed to supply 118 jets worth $27 billion.

Deliveries were scheduled to start in 2017 and run through 2025.

The Republican-majority US Congress has been seeking to pass legislation to block the sales even if the Treasury Department approved them.

The House of Representatives passed two amendments in July that would have stopped the sales, although to become law they would have to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Aviation industry experts have said the Treasury likely would not approve the sales until after the Nov. 8 US presidential election, although the companies would like to move more quickly.

Supporters of the Boeing sale say American firms will lose out to foreign competitors if the US government bars sales to Iran.

Although the nuclear deal eased sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program, restrictions related to alleged accusations, namely support for terrorism and human rights abuses, remain.