Airbus signs $25bn deal to sell 118 planes to Iran

Airbus A380 Image copyright Getty Images

Iran has signed a deal to buy 118 Airbus planes worth $25bn (€22bn; £17.4bn) at list prices in one of the biggest deals signed since Western sanctions against Tehran were lifted.

The agreement was signed during a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to France.

The order included 73 wide body and 45 narrow body jets, including 12 A380 superjumbos.

Iran's decision to buy the A380 is a significant boost for Airbus.

The company has struggled to convince airlines to order the world's biggest passenger aircraft in the past two years.

Airbus only broke even on the A380 programme last year, a decade after it first took to the air.

The huge deal will depend on Airbus winning US export licences because more than 10% of the parts for the planes are made in the United States.

It also covers the training of pilots, airport operations and air traffic management support, the company said.

The UK stands to benefit from the order as wings for Airbus planes such as the A320 are made in Broughton, north Wales.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wings for Airbus planes are made in Broughton, north Wales

Iran is also interested in buying planes from Boeing, Airbus's arch rival.

Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi has estimated that his country will need 400 medium- and long-range planes, and 100 short-haul jets, in the next few years.

An embargo imposed in 1995 has prevented Western manufacturers from selling equipment and spare parts to Iranian companies.

Iranian airlines have about 140 planes that are an average of 20 years old, with many needing to be retired.

Direct flights

Flag carrier Iran Air has three weekly flights to London and two to Paris and Amsterdam respectively.

It is also considering resuming direct flights to the US, which ended more than 30 years ago.

About one million Iranians live in the US, with the thousands who fly home every year forced to change in London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Istanbul or Dubai.

Iran Air chief executive Farhad Parvaresh said: "Today's announcement is a first step towards restoring the prestige of the civil aviation sector in the region, and alongside partners such as Airbus we will offer unparalleled services."

Several European airlines, including Air France-KLM, plan to resume flights to Iran this year.

Many European companies are lining up to strike deals with Iran following the lifting of sanctions.

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