First aircraft scheduled to arrive before inauguration of US president-elect Donald Trump
Iran has finalised an agreement with Airbus to buy 100 passenger jets, the first of which is expected to be delivered in mid-January, a senior official said on Monday.
The deal, split roughly equally between narrow-body and wide-body aircraft, will be signed in coming days, possibly as early as Monday or Tuesday, said the deputy urban development minister, Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan.
"We have finalised negotiations with Airbus and any day we will be able to sign the deal in Tehran. We are expecting some final clearances and expect to sign today or tomorrow," he told the Reuters news agency.
Airbus will supply four types of aircraft: its medium-haul A320 and A321 jets and the long-haul A330 and A350, he said, in remarks confirming Iran's decision to drop the A380 superjumbo from a draft deal signed in Paris in January.
Iran, which last week finalised a parallel deal with Boeing for 80 jets, has reached agreements with foreign leasing firms to finance a total of 77 aircraft, including 42 from Airbus and 35 from Boeing, Kashan said.
"There will be at least two leasing companies," he said.
Iran is buying planes to rebuild the elderly fleet of flag carrier Iran Air under an agreement with major powers that lifted most international sanctions in return for restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities.
The timing of the first delivery suggests the Airbus A321 could arrive before the 20 January inauguration of US president-elect Donald Trump, who is opposed to the nuclear deal, and well ahead of Iranian presidential elections in May.
The US Treasury has granted export licences to allow both deals to go ahead, a step required for both suppliers because of the heavy use of American parts in Boeing and Airbus jets.
Asked whether the deal could be derailed if Washington withdraws the certificates or imposes fresh restrictions on trade with Iran, Kashan said: "We are not concerned, although we should not ignore such a possibility.
"The fact is that Mr Trump may impose certain new sanctions, but we would consider that to be a violation of the JCPOA [nuclear accord], which explicitly provides for the possibility for the purchase of aircraft and their sale by manufacturers."