Iran’s largest airline may be forced to turn to domestic banks to finance the large number of new planes it is buying from Airbus and Boeing, amid continued reluctance by international banks to enter the Iranian market.
Some Iranian carriers had previously looked to secure financing deals through international leasing firms to support the purchase of up to 77 planes from the European and US manufacturers. It is not yet clear if those efforts have succeded but what is apparent is that, with international banking ties between Iran and the rest of the world still severely curtailed as a result of lingering US sanctions – and the threat of more to come from a White House deeply hostile to Tehran – the country’s airlines are being forced to continue exploring other options.
In comments to local media in Iran earlier this week, Iran Air spokeswoman Massoumeh Asqarzadeh said “Our preference is to use domestic financial resources, but we also have the option to finance the purchases through Airbus and Boeing themselves.” A spokesman for Boeing declined to comment on the possibility of putting financing in place for Iran Air, saying it was company policy not to talk publically about financing options.
Airbus had not responded to an emailed request for comment at the time of writing. Iranian media has reported that executives from both Airbus and Boeing are expected in Tehran in the coming days to hold talks with Iran Air. Asqarzadeh promised that “the result of the negotiations will soon be publicised.” However, one well-placed industry source – speaking anonymously due to the sensitivity of the matter – cast doubt on the likelihood of both meetings going ahead, with the Boeing talks all but certain not to happen. In December 2016, Iran Air agreed separate contracts to buy 100 Airbus aircraft worth an estimated $27bn and 80 Boeing jets valued at $16.6bn. Earlier that year, in February, it signed a deal to buy up to 40 ATR turboprop passenger planes.