EghtesadOnline: Photos of at least six brand new ATR 72-600 turboprops made for Iran in the vicinity of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport have surfaced on aviation media outlets in recent days, raising hopes for the possibility of last-minute deliveries before the reimposition of US sanctions against Iran, which is due on August 6.
Four of the planes have been painted with Iran Air livery and two more bear serial numbers showing they've been built for the Iranian flag carrier.
The planes are part of Iran Air's post-nuclear deal order for 20+20 new turboprops. The delivery process is facing hurdles following the US administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers.
Iran has taken deliveries of eight ATR 72-600 aircraft so far as part of the order, according to Financial Tribune.
Iran Air declined to comment on the possibility of receiving new ATR aircraft.
In late June, ATR CEO Christian Scherer told the French weekly financial newspaper La Tribune that "of the 80 planes we expected to deliver in 2018, there were 12 for Iran; that’s a lot.”
Of the 12 planes ATR expected to deliver to Iran, two have already been completed, six are being assembled and four have been customized for Iran, particularly with pressurization devices, to fly over mountainous areas, said Scherer, adding that it was going to be difficult to change the fate of these jets, especially the customized ones.
Last month, Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan, senior advisor to Iran’s roads and urban development minister, said the money for purchasing six ATR is ready.
“If they can get the license from the Americans, we will pay the company for the six planes,” he told Mehr News Agency.
This is while the US Office for Foreign Asset Control declined the planemaker’s application for a exemption from the new sanctions.
Using its brand new regional ATR aircraft, Iran Air has managed to operate flights to several new domestic destinations, especially in less- developed areas where airports were smaller in size.
> France Has "Good Hope"
French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday he was "hopeful" that ATR would get permission from the United States to deliver eight regional planes to Iran before August 6, despite the sanctions imposed on Tehran.
"I am hopeful that the United States will give us permission to deliver these ATRs," said Le Maire, in an interview with BFM TV.
"There were eight to be delivered before August 6," he added, highlighting the "significant share" of turnover this order entails for ATR.
Deliveries of turboprop aircraft were halted in May after the withdrawal of the United States, which must approve any export of aircraft containing more than 10% US-made components, from the Iran nuclear deal and the return to a US sanctions regime against the Islamic Republic.
The equally-owned group by Airbus and the Italian Leonardo had alerted earlier this month to the "serious prejudice" of this decision.
Nobody within ATR was available immediately to comment on Bruno le Mair's statements.
He expressed his optimism for other sectors, without going into detail.
"I've been negotiating for weeks with my counterpart, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and I'm hopeful we'll get on a number of topics that directly affect our SMEs and our jobs in US-owned territories," he said.
"I am also fighting so that in the health sector, in the agrifood sector, which are now out of sanction, there may be funding channels that remain open."
France had sought, along with other European countries, exemptions from US sanctions for its companies trading with Iran, a request to which the United States objected to date, Reuters reported.