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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s flag carrier airline, Iran Air, has no plan to renovate its fleet with Russian-made Sukhoi jets, even now that buying aircraft from western planemakers has faced serious challenges amid US sanctions.

Ali Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, an advisor to the minister of roads and urban development and senior negotiator for Iran Air’s plane orders, made the above statement on Monday, adding that the ministry has not received any proposal for bartering Sukhoi jets with oil, referring to rumors of late for that matter.

However, “other [private] airlines are free to purchase Sukhoi jets,” ILNA quoted Fakhrieh Kashan as saying.

The Russian planemaker has been pitching its products to Iranian airlines since sanctions were lifted against Tehran, amid the pressing need for Iran to renew its aging air fleet, according to Financial Tribune. 

Sukhoi even recently announced that it has lowered the share of American-made parts in its superjets to 10%, making it possible for Iranians to lease or purchase the plane without seeking the permission of US Treasury’s Office for Foreign Assets Control.

Iran Aseman and Iran Air Tours signed letters of intent with Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company back in April to purchase 40 SSJ100 jets–20 planes for each airline. This is while Russian-made planes do not enjoy a good reputation in Iran due to their poor safety record.

Fate of Post-Sanctions Orders

Iran Air signed contracts for purchasing 100 Airbus jets, 80 Boeing jets, and 20+20 ATR aircraft, following the sanction’s removal on January 2017. It has taken delivery of 11 planes so far: One Airbus A321, two Airbus A330s and eight ATR 72-600s. 

However, OFAC revoked all the licenses for selling aircraft to Iran following Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the landmark 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers, including the United States.

“We prefer suspending our orders from Boeing, Airbus, and ATR rather than canceling them,” Fakhrieh-Kashan said, “Suspension of orders allows us to revive the contracts without having to hold negotiations, in case any change happens to current conditions.”

“We are discussing the issue with planemakers…they are under US administration’s pressure to cancel their contracts with Iran Air.”

As per the contracts, parties are permitted to suspend the order for up to 12 months. Fakhrieh-Kashan believes that reviving the contracts might become possible during this 12-month period.

Iran has filed a lawsuit against the United States alleging that Washington’s decision in May to impose sanctions after pulling out of a nuclear deal violates a 1955 treaty between the two countries, the International Court of Justice said on July 17.

The ICJ, which is based in The Hague and is also known as the World Court, is the United Nations tribunal for resolving international disputes. Iran’s filing asks the ICJ to order the United States to provisionally lift its sanctions ahead of more detailed arguments.

Although the ICJ is the highest United Nations court and its decisions are binding, it has no power to enforce them, and countries - including the United States - have occasionally ignored them. But should the complaint happen to bear fruit, Iran might be able to acquire new planes provided that US sanctions are suspended.


Iran Air US sanctions Sukhoi