IranAir Gets 5 More ATR Regional Planes Before Sanctions

DUBAI, Aug 5 (Reuters) – IranAir took delivery of five more ATR turboprop aircraft, it said on Sunday, easing a state of limbo surrounding Western plane deals since Washington exited a nuclear sanctions pact between Iran and major world powers.

Iran’s flag carrier said in a posting on its Telegram channel that all five new ATR 72-600 planes landed in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia for refuelling and would then fly on to Tehran.

ATR – co-owned by Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo – has been pressing U.S. authorities to allow it to deliver aircraft it built for Iran under a deal to reopen trade links in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear activities.

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In the wake of that deal, IranAir ordered a total of 200 aircraft from Western planemakers including 20 from ATR, which is based in Toulouse, France.

But few have been delivered and U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in May to pull the United States out of the nuclear deal gives most companies until Aug. 7 to complete ongoing business with Iran before new U.S. sanctions apply.

Planemakers say they are unable to use this window because Washington has also revoked export licences needed by all Western planemakers due to their heavy use of U.S. parts.

ATR – which had delivered 8 planes to Iran under the deal and started building another 12 – has been lobbying the U.S. Treasury to allow it to take advantage of the normal wind-down period for Iran business by giving it temporary new licences.

[aesop_image img=”” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” caption=”IranAir Chairman Farhad Parvaresh (C) jokes with Airbus Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier (L) and Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders (R) , near Toulouse, France, January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”frombelow” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

ATR declined to comment on Saturday. Industry sources said the final number of planes to be delivered would be known in coming days.

The U.S. decision on Iran has raised question marks over whether ATR can reach a target of stabilising annual deliveries at 80 aircraft in 2018.

The planemaker has said it will suffer financial damage if it cannot deliver the aircraft it has already produced following earlier U.S. approvals, and is looking for alternative buyers.

Airbus said last month it would not attempt to deliver any more planes to Iran in the wind-down period. It has delivered just three of 100 ordered byIranAir.

Boeing, which had sold 80 jets to IranAir under the 2015 nuclear deal, does not plan any deliveries. Unlike the European firms, it never placed theIranian deal in its official order book on the grounds that it never received a deposit.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Stephen Coates)