IranAir may get its first new Boeing jetliner a year earlier than expected under a deal to replace cash-strapped Turkish Airlines, Iranian media and industry sources said.
Iran had been expected to receive the first of 80 aircraft ordered from the U.S. planemaker in April 2018, but at least one brand-new aircraft is reported to be sitting unused because it is no longer needed by the Turkish carrier.
Industry sources said Boeing was in negotiations to release at least one 777-300ER originally built for Turkish Airlines, which is deferring deliveries due to weaker traffic following last year’s failed coup attempt in Turkey.
Boeing and the airlines involved were not immediately available for comment.
Iran’s Deputy Roads and Urban Development Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan told the semi-official Mehr news agency the first Boeing 777 aircraft would reach Tehran within a month.
It would be the first new U.S.-built jet delivered to Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The long-haul 777 is worth $347 million at list prices but is likely to have been sold for less than half that, according to industry estimates.
IranAir has also ordered 100 aircraft from Europe’s Airbus under a deal to lift most sanctions in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
Its return to the aviation market after decades of sanctions comes at a time when airlines elsewhere are having second thoughts about purchases due to concerns about the economy and looming over-capacity among wide-body jets.
That trend has made a number of unused jets available for quick delivery at competitive prices, including three Airbus jets recently delivered to Iran, and has allowed IranAir to jump the usual waiting list of several years.
The government of pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani is seen as keen to showcase results from the sanctions deal ahead of a May election at which challengers include hardline Shi’ite cleric Ebrahim Raisi.
Aviation sources say the first aircraft were paid directly from Iranian funds, but doubts remain over credit financing needed to secure almost 180 jets still on order.
Western banks continue to shy away from financing deals between IranAir and Western companies, fearing U.S. banking sanctions that remain in force or a new chill in relations between Tehran and the West under U.S. President Donald Trump.
Boeing has stressed the benefits to U.S. jobs of the plane deals.
IranAir is meanwhile negotiating the purchase of 20 European turboprop planes from ATR.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher and Dubai newsroom; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
Iran May Get First New Boeing Jetliner a Year Ahead of Time
The first new Boeing commercial jetliner to be purchased by Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution could be delivered in a month — a year earlier than expected — an Iranian news agency reported on Monday.
The jetliner, a Boeing 777, originally ordered by Turkish Airlines but now apparently no longer wanted because of a slowdown in air travel to Turkey, will be used to start fulfilling an 80-plane order between Boeing and Iran finalized in December, according to the Mehr News Agency, which quoted a deputy minister of roads and urban planning, Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan.
If confirmed, the delivery would have at least the symbolic effect of expediting the most significant business transaction between Iran and the United States since relations were severed 37 years ago.
A Boeing spokesman, Tim D. Neale, declined to comment on the news agency report, which comes as the aerospace company is dealing with a strong backlash in Washington over its plans to sell planes to Iran. Turkish Airlines officials did not return emailed messages seeking comment.
The aircraft sales, which could create thousands of jobs in the United States, are permitted under the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and big powers that eased economic constraints on Iran in exchange for its promises of peaceful nuclear work.
Iran is desperate for new planes to replace its aging commercial fleet. Last week Boeing announced a tentative deal potentially valued at $6 billion to sell up to 60 737s to Iran, adding to the $16.6 billion deal reached four months ago. Airbus, Boeing’s principal rival, has reached a deal to sell 100 planes to Iran.
Opponents of the nuclear agreement in the United States say Iran could illegally divert the new planes for military purposes, an accusation that supporters of the agreement have rejected because the accord forbids such misuse.
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IranAir signs contract with ATR to buy 20 planes
IranAir has signed a contract to buy 20 planes from turboprop maker ATR, Iranian deputy transport minister was quoted as saying on Monday.
The deal comes after Iran, which had not directly purchased a Western-built plane in nearly 40 years, signed contracts with Europe’s Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing last year to purchase about 180 jets.
That became possible after an agreement between Iran and six major powers lifted most international sanctions imposed on Tehran, in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program.
ATR is joint-owned by France-based Airbus and Leonardo of Italy.
“The contract between IranAir and ATR to buy 20 ATR 72-600 aircrafts has been signed by the officials of both countries,” Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan was quoted as saying by ISNA.
A basic deal for the purchase of 20 airplanes, with options for another 20, was reached several weeks ago but negotiations dragged on over an agreement for maintenance and spare engines between IranAir and engine supplier Pratt & Whitney Canada, owned by U.S. aerospace group United Technologies.
It was not immediately clear whether Fakhrieh-Kashan was referring to the underlying aircraft contract or the final package including the engine deal.
ATR was not immediately available for comment, but on Sunday a spokesman said, “We are still working on finalizing the deal.”
(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Tim Hepher in Paris, editing by Louise Heavens)
Tags: 777-300ER, Boeing, Boeing 777, Boeing 777 aircraft, first new Boeing jetliner, Iran, Iran Air, IranAir, Pratt & Whitney Canada, turboprop, U.S. banking sanctions, U.S. jobs, U.S. President Donald Trump, United Technologies