Iran Air, the flag carrier of the country, is concerned about the fate of its $16.5 billion worth order of 80 Boeing aircraft, which was suspended in 2018 due to the former President Donald Trump administration’s decision to revoke the license for plane export to Iran.
According to local media outlet Kayhan, on February 3, 2021, the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAO) appealed to the American plane manufacturer enquiring about the status of the order, which was shelved in 2018, regarding the reimposition of U.S sanctions for exporting planes to Iran.
“Iran’s contract with Airbus and ATR has been suspended. Regarding the contract we have with Boeing, a letter has recently been written to clarify its fate,“ Touraj Dehqani Zanganeh, the Chief Executive of CAO, said.
In 2016, Iran Air ordered 80 Boeing aircraft, consisting of a mix of the 737 MAX and the 777. At the time, the deal between the air carrier and the manufacturer was evaluated to be worth more than $16.5 billion at list prices. In addition to the Boeing order, the airline also signed deals for 100 Airbus planes and 20 aircraft from ATR. The total value for the huge aircraft order was $36 billion.
However, all three deals depended on the U.S. export license due to the high use of the U.S. manufactured parts in the aircraft. According to Planespotters.com data, before the export licenses were revoked, Iran had received a delivery of one Airbus A321, two A330s, and 13 ATR 72 planes. Then, in 2018, when the new sanctions were implemented by the U.S. Treasury Department, the fate of the rest of the deals was put under question.
As the United States is now led by the new administration of President Biden, Iran hopes to revive the orders, but it is still unclear if the plane manufacturers will be able to fulfill the agreements, as even Airbus will need the U.S. approval to export its planes because of the usage of the American technology.
Speaking to local media, Zanganeh pointed out that there was „definitely a possibility that ATR and Airbus contracts will be reactivated.“ He also added that if the U.S sanctions for aircraft export would be eased, „[the manufacturers] will have to return to the contracts.”
Taking into account the political tensions between Iran and the U.S., the future of the Iran Air ordered aircraft remains uncertain.