TEHRAN — Iran will sign a contract this week to buy 114 Airbus planes from France, during a visit to Paris by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Tehran’s transportation minister said Sunday.
Abbas Akhoundi, quoted by Iranian media, said the deal “will be signed between Iran Air and Airbus” when Rouhani is in Paris on Wednesday on the final day of his first official European visit.
Rouhani’s trip follows the implementation of a nuclear deal with world powers that curbs Tehran’s atomic activities in exchange for the lifting of punishing economic sanctions.
Iran desperately needs to modernize its aging passenger plane fleet, which has only 150 operational planes out of more than 250, according to Akhoundi.
“We have been negotiating for 10 months” for the purchase of planes but “there was no way to pay for them because of banking sanctions,” Iranian state media quoted Akhoundi as saying.
“We need 400 long- and mid-range and 100 short-range planes,” he added.
Rouhani is to visit Italy and France on January 25-27 to boost Iran’s economic ties with Europe.