Airbus seals deal with Iran for sale of 100 aircraft
By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) - Europe's Airbus signed a firm contract on Thursday to sell 100 jets to IranAir, completing a return by Western plane giants and paving the way for deliveries to start next month, a year after sanctions against Iran were lifted.
The deal took weeks of shuttling between Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, and Tehran, complicated by a shortage of expert legal advice as Iran completes its biggest commercial deals with the West since its 1979 Islamic revolution.
Confirming details first reported by Reuters, Airbus said almost half the jets would be for short to medium routes and that deliveries would start early next year.
The contract includes 46 of the narrrow-body A320 family which includes the A321 model, 38 long-haul A330s and 16 of Europe's newest long-range model, the A350.
Such a deal would be worth $18-20 billion at list prices, depending on variants flown, but Iran is expected to receive steep discounts from foreign manufacturers as its aviation renewal coincides with a drop in demand elsewhere.
The head of IranAir was quoted earlier as saying the value of the contract would not exceed $10 billion.
It is expected to be followed by a formal deal to buy turboprop aircraft from ATR, half-owned by Airbus.
The breakthrough comes days after Iran signed a $17 billion deal with Boeing for 80 jets and is expected to sharpen efforts by the U.S. company to persuade the incoming U.S. administration to allow the trade to go ahead, aviation experts said. Continued...