Airbus, Boeing Get US Approval To Sell Planes To Iran

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The license approval from the US government allows Airbus to deliver A320 single-aisle planes and A330 widebodies to Iran Air.

We received a license and remain in negotiations with Iran Air, confirmed Marc Sklar, a spokesman for the United States company.

Earlier this year, Airbus and its US rival Boeing each signed deals to supply over 100 jets to flag carrier IranAir to modernize and expand the country's elderly fleet, held together by smuggled or improvised parts after years of sanctions.

Thumbs-up from the Treasury is a major step forward on a key portion of last year's deal between Iran and six world powers including the US, in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from decades-long sanctions.

In the case of Airbus, the license-the first of two for which the European airframer applied-covers "short-term" deliveries of 17 A320s and A330s to Iran Air.

While the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - a lasting nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers- came into force in January, some Iranian officials have complained about the United States failure to fully implement the accord. Which planes are among the 17 released for delivery to Iran was not specified. Some of the plane-related trade restrictions predated a disagreement between western powers over the country's nuclear program and were imposed in the wake of Iran's revolution in 1979.

Many sanctions against Iran still remain.

The licence approval clears the way for the two plane manufacturers to begin accessing one of the last untapped aviation markets in the world, home to 80 million people. The country has 250 commercial planes, but as of June only 162 were flying because the rest needed new parts.

According to Tim Hepher of Reuters, aviation sources say that the United States government has made a decision to unblock the deal and began issuing export licenses for the aircraft. Boeing followed with its own announcement later.

The approvals from the US Treasury Department allow both aerospace giants to proceed with sales worth billions of dollars into a country that had been entirely off limits prior to the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. In June, Boeing also agreed to sell 100 aircraft to the Iranian national airline.

Separately, Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR continues to wait for its OFAC license to proceed with the sale of 20 ATR 72-600s to Iran Air. "We look forward to receiving our license from the government shortly", the company said in a statement. The republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has threatened to tear up the nuclear deal if elected this November.

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