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SuperJets on hold? Russian SSJ-100 delivery to Iran frozen over US-made parts

Tehran may not receive Russia’s Sukhoi SuperJet 100 airliners to boost its ageing air fleet due to US trade restrictions. The jets reportedly have more US-made parts than are allowed for export without Washington’s approval.

Earlier, Russia and Iran sealed a deal for the delivery of 40 new twin-engine regional passenger aircraft of the latest version, Sukhoi Superjet 100R, for two Iranian airlines – Iran Air Tours and Aseman Airlines. The deal is believed to be worth $2 billion and an even more ambitious agreement for 100 planes was being considered.

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“However, it appears that due to the lack of license issued by OFAC (the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control), the arrival of the planes is out of the question for now,” Maqsoud Asadi Samani, who serves as the secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines, told Iranian Labor New Agency (ILNA) on Tuesday.

He was reportedly speaking about the purchase of 20 planes for Iran Air Tours, a subsidiary of national flag carrier IranAir, as well as a leasing deal drafted by “another Iranian airline,” according to the agency. The official did not mention Aseman Airlines, which ordered another 20 jets from Russia.

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The problem is that more than 10 percent of the aircrafts’ components are US-produced, which means that approval from Washington is required, ILNA reported.

The Russian producer earlier pledged to reduce the number of US parts. In March 2018, the head of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, Alexander Rubtsov, told RIA Novosti that the company was trying to find both foreign and domestic suppliers of components for the newly designed Sukhoi SuperJet 100 (SSJ-100).

The Islamic Republic has long been struggling with a shortage of modern planes after decades-long sanctions imposed by Western countries. The situation eased after world powers signed a nuclear deal with Iran back in 2015, allowing it to order new planes from industry giants such as Airbus and Boeing.

However, the deals have been have been hampered after the US pulled out of the agreement with Iran and re-imposed economic restrictions against the country. Before US licenses for sales were revoked, the Iranian companies received only 16 planes out of some 200 aircraft that were ordered – three from Airbus and 13 from Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR.

Facing delays to the modernization of its air fleet, Tehran turned to Moscow. Last month, the head of the Civil Aviation Organization, Ali Abedzadeh, said the large Iranian market needed some 500 aircraft and considered the Sukhoi SuperJet as one of the options to at least partly fill the gap. 

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section