PARIS/DUBAI, April 10 IranAir may get its first
new Boeing jetliner a year earlier than expected under a
deal to replace cash-strapped Turkish Airlines, Iranian media
and industry sources said.
Iran had been expected to receive the first of 80 aircraft
ordered from the U.S. planemaker in April 2018, but at least one
brand-new aircraft is reported to be sitting unused because it
is no longer needed by the Turkish carrier.
Industry sources said Boeing was in negotiations to release
at least one 777-300ER originally built for Turkish Airlines,
which is deferring deliveries due to weaker traffic following
last year's failed coup attempt in Turkey.
Boeing and the airlines involved were not immediately
available for comment.
Iran's Deputy Roads and Urban Development Minister Asghar
Fakhrieh Kashan told the semi-official Mehr news agency the
first Boeing 777 aircraft would reach Tehran within a month.
It would be the first new U.S.-built jet delivered to Iran
since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The long-haul 777 is worth $347 million at list prices but
is likely to have been sold for less than half that, according
to industry estimates.
IranAir has also ordered 100 aircraft from Europe's Airbus
under a deal to lift most sanctions in return
for curbs on Iran's nuclear programme.
Its return to the aviation market after decades of sanctions
comes at a time when airlines elsewhere are having second
thoughts about purchases due to concerns about the economy and
looming over-capacity among wide-body jets.
That trend has made a number of unused jets available for
quick delivery at competitive prices, including three Airbus
jets recently delivered to Iran, and has allowed IranAir to jump
the usual waiting list of several years.
The government of pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani is
seen as keen to showcase results from the sanctions deal ahead
of a May election at which challengers include hardline Shi'ite
cleric Ebrahim Raisi.
Aviation sources say the first aircraft were paid directly
from Iranian funds, but doubts remain over credit financing
needed to secure almost 180 jets still on order.
Western banks continue to shy away from financing deals
between IranAir and Western companies, fearing U.S. banking
sanctions that remain in force or a new chill in relations
between Tehran and the West under U.S. President Donald Trump.
Boeing has stressed the benefits to U.S. jobs of the plane
IranAir is meanwhile negotiating the purchase of 20 European
turboprop planes from ATR.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher and Dubai newsroom; Editing by Biju