Airbus’ historic sale of 118 jets to Iran Air may finally get the green light.
According to Tim Hepher of Reuters, aviation sources say that the United States government has decided to unblock the deal and began issuing export licenses for the aircraft.
The aeroplane maker told Business Insider that it has, thus far, received one licence and expects to receive a second licence soon. The two licenses will enable the aeroplane maker to deliver 118 planes.
“In a country of nearly 80 million people, it is accepted by the industry that there is a market need for some 400-500 new commercial planes to replace Iran’s existing ageing fleet and meet growing air travel demand,” a company spokesperson told Business Insider.
“Airbus has been working with the relevant authorities for some time to ensure all activities are undertaken in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. This OFAC decision to issue a licence to deliver aircraft to Iran is a reflection of that. A first licence has been issued, and we expect a second licence as well. Between the two, it allows for a total of 118 deliveries,” the spokesperson said.
In recent months, members of the US House of Representatives have sought to block the deal by preventing the Office of Foreign Assets Control from authorizing the licenses necessary to complete the sale to Iran.
Even though Airbus is a European company, it sources many of the components used to build its planes from US suppliers.
By blocking the sale of these components, the US government can indirectly prevent the completion of the deal.
In January, Airbus and Iran Air agreed to a landmark deal with a total value rising to as much as $25 billion. In June, Boeing also agreed to sell 100 aircraft to the Iranian national airline.
Due to economic sanctions levied against Iran over the past few decades, the country’s national airline has been unable to expand its service and update its fleet. As a result, Iran Air’s fleet of nearly 50 aeroplanes has an average age of 27 years, according to Airfleets.net.
The mega deals with Airbus and Boeing are part of Iran Air’s strategy to not only replace its dated aircraft, but also help put the country’s once booming commercial aviation industry on a path to compete with regional rivals in the Persian Gulf.