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US permits Boeing, Airbus to sell planes to Iran

Aviation giants Airbus and Boeing have obtained a US government licence to complete sale of planes to Iran Air despite fierce political opposition, media reports said. A spokesman for Boeing said the licence covered the sale of 80 planes to Iran’s national carrier, Iran Air, while Airbus confirmed it received a licence for an initial sale of 17 planes — part of a larger deal signed in January that involves a total of 118 planes, the New York Times reported.

“In a country of nearly 80 million people, it is accepted by the industry that there is a market need for some 400 to 500 new commercial planes to replace Iran’s existing, ageing fleet and meet growing travel demand,” USA Today cited a statement by Airbus spokesman Mary Anne Greczyn. The Treasury Department said in a statement on Wednesday that the licences “contain strict conditions to ensure that the planes will be used exclusively for commercial passenger use and cannot be resold or transferred”.

The decision is a boon not only for the two companies but also for Iranian politicians who want to expand Iran’s engagement with the world now that sanctions linked to Iran’s nuclear programme have been lifted. The House of Representatives voted in July to block aircraft sales by Airbus and Boeing to Iran and sought a legislation to block the Treasury Department from licensing the sales and to prevent loans from US institutions to finance the deals. Over the past four decades, hundreds of Iranians have died in crashes caused by malfunctioning or poorly maintained aircraft. “From today, we will have safe planes,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised in January 2016 when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) became fully operational.


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