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Iran seeking to buy 400 jets if sanctions lifted

April 30, 2014, Tehran, Iran - Iran is looking to buy 400 passenger planes in the next 10 years to upgrade its aging fleet if Western sanctions imposed over its controversial nuclear program are lifted, the country's top aviation official said Wednesday.


April 30, 2014
By The Associated Press

The remark by Ali Reza Jahangirian of Iran's Civil Aviation
Organization reflects Tehran's interest in attracting foreign investment
and upgrading its creaking aviation industry.

 

It comes amid a new climate in the country following the
election last June of new President Hassan Rouhani who has focused his
efforts on reviving Iran's faltering economy.

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"Iranian airlines will be ready to buy 40 jets a
year," Jahangirian said, without disclosing specifics of what could be a
multi-billion dollar project.

 

Jahangirian also said Iran has
received "very positive signals" from Western companies, including
Boeing Co. and General Electric Co. about getting new spare parts. Both
Boeing and GE have said the U.S. Treasury Department has given them
licenses to export to Iran.

 

The licenses for spare parts were made possible
under a temporary nuclear deal struck last November between Iran and six
world powers. Under it, Tehran is to halt some aspects of its nuclear
program in return for the lifting of some sanctions — including
restrictions on sale of commercial plane parts and services to Iran.

 

Such a sale to Iran would be the
first publicly known dealing between U.S. airspace companies and Tehran
since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the pro-U.S. Shah
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought clerics to power.

Iran and the six-nation group — the five
permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany — are
currently negotiating a comprehensive, permanent deal that could lift
all sanctions on Iran while removing any possibility for Tehran to
develop a nuclear weapon.

 

Jahangirian said that out of Iran's
250 commercial planes, about 150 are flying while the rest are grounded
due to lack of spare parts.

 

Jahangirian also said that Iran has taken some
"technical" steps in preparing for a resumption of direct flights with
the United States but that more needs to be done before that becomes a
reality.

 

Direct flights between the two countries were cut after the 1979 revolution.