Iran's Zagros and Airtour to buy Airbus planes

Iranian carriers Iran Airtour and Zagros Airlines have agreed to purchase a combined 73 planes from Airbus, in a last-minute flurry of deals for the European aviation giant at the Paris Air Show.

Airbus said on Thursday that Iran Airtour and Zagros Airlines had committed to buying 73 planes from the European aircraft manufacturer, as part of their plans to upgrade their ageing fleets and expand their networks.   

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Iran Airtour Airlines, which runs domestic and regional scheduled services, signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase 45 aircraft of the single-aisle A320neo family, Airbus said in a statement.

Airbus said separately that Zagros, which flies domestic routes in Iran, had signed a memorandum of understanding to pick up 20 planes of the A320neo family, and eight of the A330neo type.

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Zagros is already the largest operator of Airbus single-aisle aircraft in Iran with 11 A320ceo planes, it said.

Like Airtour, Zagros will use the new planes to upgrade its fleet and expand operations both at home and internationally, Zagros CEO Seyed Abdolreza Mousavi was quoted in the statement as saying.

Airbus' US rival Boeing has also signed a deal for 30 737 MAX jets with Iran's Aseman Airlines, which is managed as a private company and owned by Iran's civil service pension foundation.

Hurdles to overcome

The deals still need a number of authorizations before being confirmed, notably from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a US Treasury Department body that administers and enforces American sanctions against foreign countries.

Several international sanctions against Iran were lifted following the nuclear deal with Tehran in July 2015, including those banning the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran. Airbus said it would continue to act in full compliance with the Iran nuclear deal and associated rules.

Read: Airbus in new delivery record

Since the lifting of the sanctions, Iran has struck deals to buy more than 200 planes.

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IranAir has ordered 100 planes from Airbus, 80 from Boeing and 20 ATR turboprops but implementing the deals has been hampered by uncertainty over financing.

According to estimates from the Iranian civil aviation authority, the country's airlines will need to purchase between 400 and 500 new planes over the next decade.

sri/bea (AFP, Reuters)

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