Five new ATR turboprop aircraft arrived at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport on August 5 enabling flag carrier IranAir to take delivery of the aircraft a day before the first snapback of US sanctions reimposed on Iran.
French-Italian short haul plane maker ATR has thus managed to construct and deliver 13 of an order for 20 aircraft in advance of the return of sanctions. The remainder of the initial order for planes and a second order from the Iranians for 20 planes may not go forward unless Washington, attempting to strangle Iran’s economy to achieve a renegotiation of the country’s role in Middle East affairs, grants waivers.
The importance of the deliveries from ATR—co-owned by Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo—is shown by the fact that several regional airports have gradually been reopened thanks to the expansion of the fleet size at IranAir.
In the wake of the signing of the late 2015 nuclear deal by Iran and six major powers including the US, IranAir ordered a total of 200 aircraft from Western planemakers including the initial 20 from ATR. But few have been delivered. Boeing, which had conditionally sold 80 jets to IranAir, does not plan any deliveries, given the US’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear accord in early May. Unlike the European firms, it never placed the Iranian deal in its official order book on the grounds that it never received a deposit.
In July, the US warned Airbus and ATR that aircraft manufacturers that work with Iran will be exposed to secondary sanctions.
US Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Marshall Billingslea said the Trump administration was unlikely to approve a request by ATR to sell more turboprops to IranAir, some of which already bear the national airline’s livery at the French plant in Toulouse where they are being constructed.
IranAir’s CEO Farzaneh Sharafbafi has remarked that she fears Iranian airlines flying to foreign airports will soon have to deliver cash in suitcases to obtain enough fuel with US sanctions pushing the Islamic Republic’s companies out of the world financial system.
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