Iran carrier places US$3b Boeing 737 MAX planes order

Business | 5 Apr 2017 12:56 pm

Boeing Co has signed a US$3 billion deal with an Iranian airline for 30 new aircraft, officials said Tuesday, in the first major sale by a U.S. company in the Islamic Republic since the Trump administration imposed new sanctions against Tehran. 

The deal for the 30 737 MAX aircraft, which includes an option for another 30, could force Trump to choose between two major campaign promises: Taking a harder line against Iran or defending American manufacturing jobs. 

The new agreement comes on top of the US$16.6 billion sale Boeing previously made in Iran following the landmark nuclear deal struck under the Obama administration. President Donald Trump long has criticized the atomic deal, though he toured a Boeing plant in February and touted the firm's work as proof of a coming American manufacturing renaissance. 

"On the one hand, there's the attraction of jobs and export orders for American goods. On the other hand, of course, they were elected partly on the promise of getting tough on Iran,'' said Richard Aboulafia, an aircraft analyst and vice president of analysis at the Virginia-based Teal Group. "They'll have to make tough decisions.'' 

Chicago-based Boeing struck the deal with Iran's Aseman Airlines, a firm owned by Iran's civil service pension foundation. Aseman, Iran's third-largest airline by fleet, flies domestic and international routes. 

Aseman spokesman Amir Reza Mostafavi told The Associated Press that the deal came following several round of talks with Boeing over the past year. He said the firms signed the deal March 18 and the first aircraft will be delivered in 2019. Boeing said the first delivery would be in 2022. 

The European Union marked out Aseman in December because of safety concerns. The airline did not operate flights to European destinations at the time. 

Less than a week after that decision, the airline sealed a deal to lease seven planes made by European manufacturer Airbus. Those aircraft are expected to begin arriving next month. 

The new Boeing deal was made possible by the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and world powers. Boeing struck a December deal with Iran Air, the country's flagship carrier, for 80 passenger planes worth $16.6 billion. Iran Air also will lease 29 new Boeing 737s. 

In January, Iran Air signed agreements to buy 118 planes from Airbus, estimated to be worth some 22.8 billion euros. Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, a deputy transportation minister, later said Iran would cut the number of Airbus planes to 112.-AP

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