European plane maker Airbus Group SE said it had finalized a controversial deal to sell more than $18 billion worth of jetliners to Iran less than two weeks after rival Boeing Co. signed a similar accord.
The blockbuster contracts are among the highest profile deals western companies have signed with Iran after world powers lifted sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The plane deals have become a magnet for U.S. critics of closer ties with Iran. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in the run-up to election voiced concerns about improving ties with Iran, though hasn’t weighed in significantly since his Nov. 8 election.
Airbus, the world’s No. 2 jet maker behind Boeing, said it would sell 100 planes to Iran Air, the country’s flag carrier. The deal includes 46 single-aisle A320 planes, as well as 38 A330 and 16 A350 long-haul planes.
The first jets will be delivered to Iran early next year, the Toulouse, France-based company said. Fabrice Brégier, who heads Airbus’s commercial plane making unit, said the deal also includes pilot training and assistance in other activities. He called it “a significant first step in the overall modernization of Iran’s commercial aviation sector.”
Airbus in January said Iran Air was considering buying 118 aircraft including 12 of its flagship A380 superjumbos, which have struggled to win orders. The airline has opted not to buy the double-decker. Iran Air officials have previously said the planes it was buying would provide sufficient capacity to meet its needs.
The Boeing deal agreed earlier this month is for 80 planes and valued at around $16.6 billion. The U.S. plane maker has said its first planes would be delivered in 2018.
Iran Air has been struggling with an aging fleet after years of sanctions, some imposed in the wake of its revolution in 1979. Iran Air operates some of the world’s oldest airliners.
U.S. lawmakers opposed to closer ties with Iran have tried to block the delivery of planes by barring U.S. banks from financing the accord, though overseas lenders provide the bulk of funding for Boeing customers.
The Wall Street Journal