EghtesadOnline: Iran Aseman Airlines says negotiations with Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. on the purchase of passenger jets are continuing, despite having signed a new agreement with Boeing on the purchase of 30 planes.
“Having contracts with Boeing or any other aircraft maker doesn’t mean that we have given up negotiations for purchasing MRJ,” Aseman Spokesman Amir Reza Mostafavi told Kyodo News after the agreement with Boeing was signed in Tehran on Tuesday.
He was referring to negotiations with Mitsubishi Aircraft on the purchase of Mitsubishi Regional Jet aircraft.
Boeing said its US government-approved agreement with Aseman Airlines for the purchase of 30 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, valued at $3 billion, also provides the airline with purchase rights for 30 additional 737 MAXs, according to Financial Tribune.
According to Iranian transport officials, negotiations with Mitsubishi to purchase 25 aircraft worth $500 million began last year.
Most of the MRJ planes are to be used by Aseman Airlines, but Mitsubishi’s possible delay in delivering them is said to be a major obstacle to reaching the final deal with the Japanese firm.
Mitsubishi has repeatedly pushed back delivery plans for MRJ.
In January, it said the first delivery of its passenger jet will not be until the middle of 2020, citing the need for design modifications to enhance the aircraft’s safety.
Amid growing competition in the regional jet segment, orders have so far been received for 447 MRJs, but roughly half of the purchase contracts are cancelable, the company said.
Nevertheless, Aseman has kept Japan in the list of countries that still can sell new aircraft to Iran, according to Iranian officials.
Aviation sanctions on Iran were lifted in January 2016, just months after it signed with France, Germany, China, Russia, Britain and United States an agreement to roll back its nuclear program.
Shortly afterward, Iran inked an $18 billion deal with France-based Airbus for 46 Airbus A320 planes, 38 A330 planes and 16 A350 XWB aircraft. It was finalized last December.
That same month, state-owned Iran Air signed a $16.6 billion agreement to purchase 80 new Boeing 777 and 737 passenger planes, to be delivered over a period of 10 years. The average age of Iran’s passenger planes, which include secondhand planes leased from Russia and East European countries, is 23 years.
About 100 of them are out of service due to the effects of western sanctions.