Details of the deal remain opaque at this stage and it is not clear who it has been signed with or when it will come into force. However, it is likely to be just the first of several large contracts in the coming weeks and months.
Tehran has signed deals for 100 planes from Airbus, a further 80 from Boeing and 40 turboprops from French/Italian manufacturer ATR. Local airlines have also held discussions with Russia’s Sukhoi and Brazil’s Embraer. All of the deals need to be financed in some way.
Irish leasing companies appear to be in a strong position to get involved in any contracts being negotiated. Ireland is one of the world’s leading locations for aircraft leasing companies and, on February 11, the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAOI) signed a cooperation agreement with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), covering aircraft leasing, flight supervision and maintenance and repair among other areas.
The CAOI said at the time that “within the framework of the deal, Iranian airlines would be able to operate European-registered aircrafts; in other words, based on their scope of activities, the airlines can sign contracts with Irish airlines or leasing companies.”
Iran Aseman Airlines is set to be one of the first to take advantage of that agreement. It is planning to lease seven Airbus A320neo aircraft and “the terms of this contract [with the IAA] will apply as soon as these aircrafts land in Iran after being registered in Ireland,” according to the CAOI.
Among the Irish leasing companies linked to possible Iranian deals has been Avalon, which is owned by China’s Bohai Leasing. The Irish Times reported on February 11 that Avalon’s chief commercial officer John Higgins had spoken about a recent trip to Iran when addressing an event held by the Ireland China Business Association a day earlier.
Some financing deals have clearly already moved ahead, as the first Airbus – a narrow bodied A321 – was delivered to Iran Air in January and a second is due to be handed over in March. The first Boeing delivery is not expected until early 2018. There have been concerns that the administration of US President Donald Trump could try to disrupt these deliveries, although Iranian officials have publically dismissed such a prospect.
In the meantime, two other smaller leasing deals are currently being discussed according to the Ministry of Roads and Transport. They include a deal for 17 Airbus, six Boeing and eight ATR planes and another deal covering three Boeing 737 aircraft which would be used by Aseman.
(Dominic Dudley - Forbes)