Five turboprop ATR planes purchased by Iran under a 2017 agreement landed in Tehran on Sunday, on the eve of the re-imposition of the first batch of US sanctions that will most probably block further plane deliveries.
The planes are part of a deal for 20 new aircraft that national flag carrier Iran Air agreed to buy from the French plane-maker in April 2017, of which eight were delivered before.
The agreement came after restrictions on Iran’s aviation industry were removed under the 2015 nuclear deal, which placed confidence-building curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of international sanctions.
But the US’ withdrawal from the deal in May 2018 has hampered the deal, as the US is set to re-impose anti-Iran sanctions and escalate pressure on the country to force negotiations on a new deal.
The first series of sanctions on Iran’s automotive and metal sectors, gold trade, aviation industry and other fields will “snap back” on August 6.
Washington has revoked export licenses needed by all Western plane-makers due to their heavy use of US parts.
Further sanctions on oil and transactions with the central bank of Iran will come into effect November 4.
Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, an advisor to Iran’s roads minister, said on Saturday Iran has paid for the five planes by cash on Friday, Tasnim News Agency reported.
ATR to Lose
ATR, co-owned by Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo, has been lobbying the US Treasury to allow it to deliver aircraft it built for Iran by giving it temporary new licenses
The plane-maker has said it will suffer financial damage if it cannot deliver the aircraft it has already produced following earlier US approvals.
But the US government seems unwilling to issue any licenses that would allow companies like ATR to continue trade with Iranian airlines.
Farzaneh Sharafbafi, the CEO of Iran Air, says three more ATR planes are also expected to be delivered to Iran in case the French plane-maker manages to receive the required permissions.
Iran has also purchased over 100 Airbus planes, of which only three have so far been delivered to Iran.
Airbus said last month it would not attempt to deliver any more planes to Iran in the wind-down period.
In the wake of the deal, Iran also inked another agreement to buy 80 new planes from US aviation company Boeing. Boeing has not delivered any planes so far and does not seem to be allowed to do so in the future.