In a race to rebuild its aging commercial fleet aircraft fleet, Iran took delivery of five new airplanes from European manufacturers Sunday, stepping up deliveries before the U.S. begins restoring sanctions suspended under the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran’s state-run ISNA news agency reported that the five Franco-Italian ATR72-600 airplanes, which are twin-engine turboprops, had arrived at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport.
The new ATR-72600 planes are part of a deal for 20 new aircraft that Iran Air agreed to buy in April 2017, of which eight have so far been delivered.
The deal was thrown into doubt by the U.S. decision to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers and reimpose sanctions, part of which are due to resume from Tuesday.
Their arrival means Iran Air has received 13 of the 20 it ordered from the French-Italian manufacturer in April 2017. The deal had a list value of $536 million, though buyers and manufacturers typically negotiate lower prices.
The nuclear deal with world powers would have allowed Iran to replace its entire domestic fleet although military aircraft were always prohibited.
President Donald Trump’s decision in May to withdraw from the Obama-negotiated nuclear accord, formally known as the JCPOA, halted billion-dollar deals Iran struck with Airbus and Boeing.
Iran’s economy has rapidly deteriorated since, fueling protests across the country, with the national currency dropping past 100,000 rials per one U.S. dollar over the past seven days, exceeding record-lows to plunge to 111,500 rials.
On November 4, the United States will impose a series of oil sanctions against any nation that fails to stop importing Iranian oil. The deadline is symbolic, given that between November 4, 1979, and January 20, 1981, 51 American diplomats were held hostage for 444 days in what became known as the Iranian hostage crisis.
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