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Iran in talks to buy 100-seat aircraft

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Passenger seats aboard a Sukhoi Superjet 100

Head of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) says the country is in talks with France, Canada and Brazil to buy 100-seat aircraft as part of the Islamic Republic's bid to renovate its commercial fleet.

The announcement by Ali Abedzadeh came just after Russia's Sputnik news agency said Iran had signed contracts worth $21 billion to buy satellite equipment and aircraft from Russia.

Abedzadeh didn't confirm or reject the report. Instead he said, “Any contract for purchase of aircraft has to be signed between an airline and the manufacturer", adding "no aircraft will enter the country without the license and evaluation of the Civil Aviation Organization".

On Saturday, Sputnik quoted Managing Director of Iran Aviation Industries Organization Manouchehr Manteghi as saying that the contracts had been signed at the MAKS-2015 air show in Russia last month.

The deals involved satellite-related equipment as well as the Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional passenger aircraft, the news agency said.

Abedzadeh said, "We will enter into negotiation with any country which has a better offer for sales of aircraft to Iran.”

Head of the Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) Ali Abedzadeh 

"All aircraft in the world are designed and built in such a way to be capable to fly. However, not all of them can be necessarily operated in any country due to airport limitations,” he added.

Last month, Iran’s Vice President for science and technology Sorena Sattari praised the 100-seat Superjet as an “extraordinary” aircraft during his tour of the air show near Moscow along with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov was the first official to say in July that his country was in talks to sell Superjet passenger planes to Iran.

Since then, Russian media have promoted the proposal, hinting at possible deliveries to begin in 2016, but Iranian officials have been less forthcoming on the issue. 

Iran will need more than 400 civilian aircraft worth at least $20 billion in the next decade to renovate its aging fleet which has suffered under years of US and European sanctions.   

Minister of Transportation Abbas Akhoundi has said Iran was in talks with Airbus.

“Airbus, as one of the European aviation companies, comprises about 50% of Iran’s aviation fleet and in this regard, we are in direct negotiations with the company to renovate our fleet,” Akhoundi said last month.

Editor’s note: This story was updated and rewritten on Sept. 29, with changes in headline, lead and body after clarifications from Iran Civil Aviation Organization. 

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