Iran, Airbus to ink 114 jet deal Wed.
Iran and Europe are about to ink their first major trade deal in years when President Hassan Rouhani visits France on Wednesday.
Iran Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) will sign a contract to buy 114 passenger planes from Airbus during the visit, Iranian Minister of Transportation Abbas Akhoundi said Saturday night.
Officials from Airbus will arrive in Tehran on Sunday to discuss the deal, said Ahmad-Reza Bayati, secretary of the CAPA Iran Aviation Summit which opened with the participation of airport, airline, travel and transportation industries.
Airbus’s first deliveries to flag carrier Iran Air are due as early as July, Akhoundi said last week.
According to another official, the deal will include a mix of new and used jets from the A320 family and the out-of-production A340s to feed domestic demand in the country of 80 million.
Iran Air is also interested in wide-body planes including A350s and A380 double-decker to add destinations in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe to its network, the official said on the condition of anonymity because the details were private.
Furthermore, Iran is considering to buy narrow-body 737s for domestic flights and two-aisle 777s for long-haul routes from US aircraft maker Boeing, the official said.
Negotiations for purchase of aircraft from Boeing will begin soon, Akhoundi told IRIB 3 Channel late Saturday night.
Boeing officials were about to attend the Tehran aviation summit but their trip was cancelled due to visa issues.
Representatives of Canada’s aerospace and transportation company Bombardier and Brazil’s aerospace company Embraer are attending the summit held with the aim of exploring prospects for market development in Iran.
Iran has a potential order list for 500 commercial planes to renovate its aging fleet. According to Minister Akhoundi, Iran’s current civil aviation fleet consists of 256 aircraft with an average age of 20 years, of which 100 are in storage.
“We need about 400 long- and medium-haul aircraft and 100 short-haul planes to be used as air taxi,” he said.
The total buy is estimated to cost about $50 billion, with officials indicating that Iran seeks to acquire the aircraft under lease or sale/leaseback deals.
On Sunday, Managing Director of CAO Farhad Parvaresh said part of the resources needed to buy the 114 aircraft will be provided by the National Development Fund and the rest will come through finance.
Iran’s aviation industry is in dire need of a major overhaul, which has become possible with the recent lifting of sanctions.
Akhoundi said the country seeks $250 million of investment to upgrade its air navigation system.
Extra funding is needed to develop and expand Iranian airports. The minister said out of 67 airports in the country, only nine are operational.
A deal will be signed soon to expand Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) and make it accommodate 45 million passengers, he said. It is currently operating well over capacity for seven million passengers.
Companies from around the world are avidly coveting new business opportunities in Iran, the biggest emerging market returning to the international trade fold since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Europe is rolling out the red carpet for Iran’s president for the first time in years, with Rouhani about to visit Italy and France through January 25-27.