Iran's Aseman Airlines has signed a Minute of Agreement (MoA) with Boeing for the purchase of 30 Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body, twin-engine jet airliners and the possible acquisition of 30 more, according to an April 4 company press release.
The deal would be worth more than $5bn if the maximum number of planes was purchased at the list price, it added.
Aseman said it expected to finalise the purchase contract in 2-3 months, but Boeing - especially with an eye to the Trump administration's still hostile attitude towards Iran and the removal of economic sanctions - requires clearance from the US State Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for the sale of the jets.
The ageing air fleets of Iran-based airlines - with many planes only able to fly thanks to parts smuggled into the country while the economic sanctions of the major powers still applied up to January last year - potentially make up a lucrative market for Boeing. It has already agreed to sell 80 aircraft to flag carrier IranAir under the terms of the first deal struck between the two companies since before the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
An MoA, according to Aseman’s press release, is a form of memorandum signed between two firms that is accepted under Scottish Law when witnessed by lawyers of both parties.
Aseman is the third largest airline in the Islamic Republic. It is majority-owned by Iran’s Civil Service Pension Fund (CSPO). The pension fund is one of the largest in Iran, taking pension payments from members of the country's armed forces, government ministries and Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Aseman lately received clearance to lease seven new Airbus A320neo aircraft from the Chinese-backed, Dublin-based Avolon Leasing company.
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, which announced it was putting the brakes on selling planes to Iran due to fears that the Trump administration might penalise it for breaking US trade sanctions, is also believed to be again in the process of selling short-range jets to Aseman.
"Having contracts with Boeing or any other aircraft maker doesn't mean that we have given up negotiations for purchasing MRJs [Mitsubishi Regional Jets]," Aseman spokesman Amir Reza Mostafavi told Kyodo News after the MoA agreement with Boeing was signed in Tehran.
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