Airbus announced Thursday that Iran Air signed a firm contract for 100 aircraft, with deliveries to begin in early 2017.
The order is part of an enormous addition of planes to the state-owned airline, with Boeing selling 80 planes.
“Iran Air considers this agreement an important step towards a stronger international presence in civil aviation,” Iran Air CEO Farhad Parvaresh said in a statement. “We hope this success signals to the world that the commercial goals of Iran and its counterparts are better achieved with international cooperation and collaboration.”
But the orders, which required U.S. government approval because of technology aboard the planes, remain contentious in Congress. Some U.S. lawmakers contend the sales should be blocked because Iran remains listed as a sponsor of terrorism, and could use the planes to transport weapons and troops.
The sales agreements with Airbus and Boeing were completed after the Obama administration negotiated an agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear-weapons program. The U.S. had blocked trade with Iran as part of sanctions following the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, which took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
President-elect Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated Jan. 20, has criticized the Boeing deal and said he would overturn it. The House approved a bill Nov. 17 from Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., that would prohibit the U.S. Treasury from allowing any domestic financial institution from financing the sale of aircraft to Iran. The bill was approved by a vote of 243-174, although the Senate didn't act on it before Congress adjourned for the year.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg met Tuesday with Trump and said they discussed a variety of subjects, but he spoke to reporters only about the company's eagerness to build replacement aircraft to serve as Air Force One.
The Airbus order is for 46 A320 family aircraft, 38 A330 family planes and 16 A350 aircraft, the manufacturer announced. Airbus didn’t announce the total value of the deal, but A320s list for $98 million and A330-220s start at $231 million, although those prices are often discounted.
“This is a landmark agreement not only because it paves the way for Iran Air’s fleet renewal,” Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier said in a statement. “Our overall accord includes pilot training, airport operations and air traffic management so this agreement is also a significant first step in the overall modernization of Iran’s commercial aviation sector.”
The Boeing deal includes 50 737 MAX 8 aircraft, 15 777-300ER planes and 15 777-9 aircraft, the company announced Dec. 11. The order supports nearly 100,000 jobs, Boeing said. The planes list for a combined $16.6 billion, although airlines often get discounts from those prices.
The U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control granted export licenses for the European manufacturer, which are required for products containing at least 10% U.S. technology, in September and November.
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