Due to Sanctions, Iran Lost Almost Half Billion Dollars in Airplane Order Deposits

Yes, the U.S. delivered a billion dollars in hard cash (from Iran’s frozen bank accounts) back to Iran after the JCPOA was signed! But a few months later, Iran put a deposit on new plane orders with Boeing and Airbus. And guess what, because of sanctions, neither company can sell planes to Iran, nor return the money to Iran! The money is frozen (again)!

Trump is the master of bullshitting and lying. He decries Obama for giving money to Iran (failing to disclose that it was Iran’s money to begin with). And now, with new sanctions, the US has frozen Iranian cash again.

In real commercial terms, both deals are considered firm orders. Meaning that Iran Air paid the two jet manufacturers the required initial deposit, which is typically 1 percent of the total list price or 2% of the discounted price (Iran Air) received. For the Boeing order, that would be about $170 million, Airbus’s deposit was slightly more. There are by the way, other contractual fees that should be added to these figures.

Boeing has finalized one deal to sell 80 jets to Iran, worth an estimated $8 billion at standard prices, and was still negotiating others.

Its original discussions with Iranian officials were conducted under two U.S. government licenses, the first allowing Boeing to initiate sales conversations and the second a specific license to nail down details of the agreement to sell the 80 jets to Iran Air.

That original contract was finalized in December 2015, under the Obama administration, as was a parallel deal Airbus made with the same airline for 98 airplanes, plus another two jets sold indirectly. At the time, Boeing’s deal was the largest by an American company with Iran since the 1979 Iranian revolution and subsequent seizure of the U.S. Embassy there.

Iran’s fleet of some 250 airliners is badly in need of modernization — most planes were purchased before the revolution, and its airlines have been prone to accidents.

For Boeing and its archrival Airbus, that presented an immediate opportunity to win orders that would establish the nation’s airlines as long-term customers and set a precedent for other similar contracts – and eventual ‘normalization’ of relations.

Boeing’s Iran Air order — for 50 single-aisle 737 MAX 8s, 15 current model 777-300ER widebodies and 15 new model 777-9X widebodies, with deliveries supposed in 2017 was worth about $8 billion after standard industry discounts, based on market-pricing data from aircraft-valuation firm Avitas. The Airbus order is worth about $8.7 billion.

Airbus chose to book the sale at the end of 2016 and then rushed to deliver the first airplane, an A321, in January, just before Trump’s inauguration. Two A330s were subsequently delivered to Iran.

Boeing, because of the political uncertainty around the purchase as Trump came into office, chose not to formally add the deal to its order book. That allowed Airbus to win the order race last year, outselling Boeing by 63 airplanes. Since then, both plane makers have continued to talk with Iranian airlines and have inked further tentative agreements.


At the Paris Air Show in June, Boeing announced an agreement with Iran’s Aseman Airlines to buy 30 single-aisle 737 MAXes. Airbus announced agreements with Iran’s Airtour Airline to buy 45 single-aisle A320neos and with Zagros Airlines to buy 20 A320neos and eight widebody A330neos. This means these airlines placed deposits too.

All in all, almost half a billion dollars in deposits are frozen, with no prospect of the either plane deliveries of return of Iran’s cash! The future of all these jet sales remains very unclear, however.

The Iran nuclear deal specifically allowed Iran to unfreeze overseas financial assets and to buy commercial aircraft.

If Boeing were to lose the entire order, the biggest hit would be to 777 production in Everett.

Iran’s order for current model 777-300ERs would help fill a looming gap in production in 2019 that has already led Boeing to cut the 777 rates.

And the 777-9X portion of the order would help solidify the prospects of that new airplane, due to start delivery in 2020. The current order book for that plane is heavily dependent on the three large Gulf carriers, all of which have seen growth falter in the past year.

In a statement, Boeing said it will “remain in close touch with U.S. regulators for any additional guidance. We continue to follow the U.S. government’s lead in all our dealings with approved Iranian airlines.”

As they say in Iran, the whole thing “Malid”! The money is gone. Nothing of consequence will happen. Iran doesn’t even have the hard cash to place deposits on aircraft from other (unsanctioned) sellers like the Chinese or Russian aircraft producers.

All this spells kching, kching in Dubai, and Abu Dhabi!  Why?

Well, if you need a hub in aisa to travel say from London to Mumbai or Singapore; Iranian airports like Tehran or Mashhad are 1000 miles closer than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Iranian airliners could single handedly put Emirates or Qatar Airways or Etihad airlines out of business. Everyone forgets that before 1979, Tehran was the preferred hub for airlines like Pan Am, or KLM or Lufthansa – Not Dubai!

Iran too has a high volume of technical hands; and qualified folks to work in the airline business. Everything from Aircraft maintenance to basic servicing can be more effectively supported via Iranian hubs. All these competing airlines like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar etc. all import their labor at exorbitant costs. These airlines may provide the lowest fares to Asia for Europeans and Americans – and Asians to Europe and the Americas, but Iranian airlines would be even cheaper – and operate more cost effectively.

The whole idea behind these sanctions and Nuclear ‘accusations’ against Iran, is very simple: Iran’s competitors are trying to contain Iran, hamstring Iranian companies and the more broadly the country itself – and effectively put it out of business or even consideration. A vibrant Iran would kill business and prosperity in the rest of the middle east. And everyone, yes, every major western company (and nation) has too much invested in the rest of the middle east to let Iran out of a cage!

So, Iranians beware, they have frozen Iranian assets again. And are making excuses to contain Iran (at least for the next 4 years)! Iran will be contained, humiliated, on its knees for another generation … maybe!  Mark my words, Trump and the Republicans are the biggest, nastiest liars. And Iranians – ordinary Iranians – are the one affected: riding old planes, with news of the crash almost every 6 months! I am tired of all this bullshit. There will be no war, simply containment.

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