The head of Iran’s civil aviation agency is looking to revisit a significant aircraft contract with Airbus, should sanctions be lifted following talks this week in Vienna. The original agreement between Iran Air and Airbus was signed in December 2016 to supply 100 jets to the Iranian flag carrier.
The deal saw the delivery of three airbus aircraft to Iran Air before the United States withdrew from an international deal on Iran’s nuclear program and imposed sanctions on the country. Transportation minister Mohammad Mohammadi Bakhsh said on Wednesday that Airbus had violated its obligations under the 2016 deal with Iran Air requiring the European aircraft manufacturer to supply spare parts for planes it had delivered to Iran before May of 2018.
The renewed interest in the agreement follows the visit of US Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, to Vienna this month to meet with EU leaders hoping to revive a deal with Iran.
Big deals in 2016 for an upgraded future
The initial deals in 2016 included 100 Airbus jets, 80 Boeing aircraft, and 40 ATR turboprops. Of those orders, one Airbus A321, two Airbus A330s, and eight ATR 72-600s were delivered in the first two years. Following the resumptions of US Sanctions, the two European plane manufacturers have since been reluctant to send parts for the aircraft already in the country, citing the threat of American punishment for engaging in any business activity with Tehran. The aircraft is composed of products from different locations, making production and maintenance difficult without a US license as the planes use many American parts.
Simple Flying reported earlier this year that Iran was considering legal action against Airbus and ATR for failing to supply the airline industry with the necessary parts for maintenance. Iran’s civil aviation chief Mohammadi Bakhsh said Airbus and ATR should treat the spare parts issue in a manner different than plane deliveries as a warning that failure to supply the parts could cause significant incidents in the Iranian civil aviation sector.
The push for more planes
The country has expressed interest in developing a domestic passenger aircraft as it continues to face import obstacles. A Memorandum of Understanding between Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, Ministry of Defense, and the Transport and Urban Development Ministry was reportedly signed in March to develop an aircraft that can seat 70-100 passengers. The move to deliver domestic aircraft would reduce reliance on trade restrictions and import bans as the country seeks to reduce the average age of its fleet.
The national airline received less than a dozen aircraft before 2018 saw sanctions reapplied as the US withdrew from the nuclear deal. The proposed deal also initially contained a large order for 12 Airbus A380 superjumbos. If delivered, the order would have given Iran Air a double-decker fleet to rival the size of carriers such as Qantas. In addition to the Airbus deal, Iran Air signed a contract with Boeing in 2016 for an order for 80 aircraft. The list included 50 737 MAX 8s, 15 777-300ERs, and 15 777-9s. The order was valued at the time at $16.6 billion at list prices.
Other Iranian carriers also took advantage of the relationship thaw and signed agreements to update their fleets. Domestic airlines such as Iran Aseman Airlines, which signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Boeing for 30 new 737 MAX jets valued at up to $3 billion, have also suspended orders.
Source » simpleflying/