(Adds Boeing statement, background)
DUBAI/PARIS, April 4 Iran's Aseman Airlines has
signed a tentative deal to buy at least 30 Boeing 737 MAX
jets, in the first new business with the U.S. planemaker since
U.S. President Donald Trump took office vowing to take a tougher
stance towards Iran.
Owned by Iran's civil service pension foundation but managed
as a private company, Aseman is Iran's third-largest airline by
active fleet size, according to the CAPA consultancy.
Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said on Tuesday
that representatives of Aseman and Boeing had signed an
agreement in Tehran covering as many as 60 jets, including
options, after a year of negotiations.
Boeing described the deal as a "memorandum of agreement," a
type of transaction that falls short of a binding contract and
is subject to government approvals.
It covers concrete plans for Aseman to buy 30 aircraft with
options for a further 30, it added.
If completed, the main part of the deal for 30 jets would be
worth $3.4 billion at list prices, though airlines typically win
discounts of around 50 percent for large deals.
Boeing has already agreed to sell 80 aircraft to flag
carrier IranAir under a deal between Tehran and major powers
that led last year to the lifting of most sanctions against Iran
in return for restrictions on its nuclear technology development
Trump has said he opposes the nuclear sanctions pact, but
has not explicitly stated a view on the aircraft deals reached
under the accord, which the U.S. aerospace industry says would
protect thousands of jobs.
Washington last month imposed separate sanctions on 25
Iranian individuals and entities following a ballistic missile
test. Iran retaliated with its own sanctions.
In a statement on the latest deal, Boeing cited U.S.
Department of Commerce data suggesting an "aerospace sale of
this magnitude creates or sustains approximately 18,000 jobs in
the United States".
Deliveries to Aseman would start in 2022.
Boeing must now apply for licences from the U.S. Treasury
allowing it to proceed with the sale.
"Boeing continues to follow the lead of the U.S. government
with regards to working with Iran’s airlines and any and all
contracts with Iran’s airlines are contingent upon U.S.
government approval," it said.
The latest deal comes as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's
government seeks to highlight improvements resulting from the
nuclear deal in the run-up to May presidential elections. So far
IranAir has received three new Airbus jets under the deal.
In December the European Union banned Aseman from flying to
the EU due to safety concerns, highlighting gaps in the
country's ageing fleet following the decades of sanctions.
(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh in Dubai and Tim Hepher in
Paris; Editing by Greg Mahlich)