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publish date : 14 Saturday January 2017      11:43

Iran Receives First Airbus Order; Conservatives Are Anything But Happy, However

In article published on Saturday, pro-reform Arman Daily recaps criticisms by hardliners against Iran’s purchases from Airbus and Boeing.

Immediately after the first Airbus A321 was delivered to Iran Air on Thursday, animadversions against the Rouhani administration began. The opponents’ first point: While Iranians find it hard to earn a living, where does the urgency to purchase Airbuses come from? They also argued that Iran’s order has alleviated concerns among French officials over continued loss of their projects, but failed to serve Iran.


However, the Airbus purchase has not only paved the ground for the renewal of Iran’s aging air fleet, but also reduces costs for Iranian passengers in direct flights from Iranian airports to European destinations as well as help create a better business atmosphere, economists say.


Opponents have also insisted vehemently in recent days on saying that the purchased airplane has secondhand good. Critics of the Rouhani administration claim that for 12 wide-body Airbus A380 jet airliners, Iran’s is paying $5.136 b, which equals an eighth of the country’s annual oil revenues. The price announced by Airbus upholds the possibility that the aircrafts have been used before. The argument goes that with the average $50m allotted for each aircraft in the deal, it does not appear that Airbus has reduced its prices by half, giving Iran brand new airliners. The opponents further claim that given the size of the Airbus order, even if working on the order starts immediately, Iran should stay in line for another 7 years to receive its first airplane. All these claims were put down as the first of the aircrafts appeared in Iran’s sky on Thursday; only 20 days after the deal to purchase 100 Airbus airliners were finalized between Iran and France.

Rumors that the Airbus A321 is second-hand seem to be only a new pretext to criticize the Rouhani administration. As the Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi has said, conditions set by Iran to buy second-hand airplanes is their manufacture after 2000. In any case, with the ultimate goal being provision of efficient services to Iranian passengers, to reduce costs, and to upgrade the country’s air fleet, whether the Airbus airplanes are new or second-hand makes little difference.


Among other faults found as soon as the Airbus landed in Tehran’s Mehrabad airport was that orders submitted to Boeing and Airbus have been in the form of hire purchase.  In this type of contract, ownership will be transferred at the end of the contract’s duration. Critics argue that Washington is able to make unsubstantiated accusations against Iran at any time, saying Iran has failed to comply with the provisions of the contract, and make it difficult for Iran, as the planes are not in possession of the country. Given the strict conditions set by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to facilitate the supply, Iran had better to cement a contract in which the ownership would be transferred at the very beginning.


With such criticisms and fault-findings on the rise, Rouhani’s advisor Hesamoddin Ashna took to his Twitter to respond: “[Perhaps] to be a professional buyer means that you should be cautious about the delivery when you pay twice for an oil rig. The important thing in the [Airbus] discount is that it renders Iran a professional buyer and shatters the security atmosphere around Iran,” he tweeted in Persian [sneering at the ‘missing oil rig’ controversy that had taken place during ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s term.]


The hardliners have sought to impeach Rouhani’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi ever since the train collision incident in Semnan. It seems that Rouhani opponents in the parliament will soon be bringing up the Airbus delivery and the remarks made by Akhoundi as burning issues. “The impeachers still want Akhoundi impeached,” said the spokesman of the parliament’s Civil Affairs Committee. “The impeachment is still on the agenda. The committee will discuss the impeachment next week,” Sadif Badri told Tasnim News Agency in an interview. The MP had claimed earlier that Akhoundi had started unofficial negotiations with impeachers who wanted him to step down after the Semnan incident. In the meantime, the Airbus CEO is quoted as saying that Iran’s 100 purchased airplanes constitute 98 new orders and 2 repurchases, previously cancelled by other airlines. The website of Iran’s Ministry of Roads and Urban Development has quoted Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier -saying in a ceremony held to celebrate the aviation giant’s first delivery to Iran Air- that Airbus is working on Iran Air jets without concerns about the election of Donald Trump to US presidency. “This does not threaten the contract. Trump will not affect our relations with Iran,” the website quoted Brégier. “Cooperation with Iran is officially launched and we hope Iran’s economic development is pursued more quickly after the deliveries,” Brégier added.


* This article was originally published in Arman Daily. The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Iranian Diplomacy's editorial policy. Links inside the text have been added by Iranian Diplomacy.

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