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Iran Air needs to buy at least 20 regional jets as it upgrades its fleet now that economic sanctions on the country have been lifted, and Bombardier Inc. has already made a presentation to the carrier, chairman and managing director Farhad Parvaresh said.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Iran Air needs to buy at least 20 regional jets as it upgrades its fleet now that economic sanctions on the country have been lifted, and Bombardier Inc. has already made a presentation to the carrier, chairman and managing director Farhad Parvaresh said.

The airline intends to add 50-seat and 100-seat planes to its regional service to complement a main-jet fleet that will include Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE planes, Mr. Parvaresh said in an interview in Tehran at the Iran Aviation Summit. Bombardier still needs approvals from Canada to operate in Iran, he said. The carrier estimates it will spend $3-billion (U.S.) on aircraft purchases, he said, without giving a timetable. In all, Iran plans to spend $5-billion on aircraft, he added.

Iran Air's previously announced purchase of 114 Airbus jets is to be signed during President Hassan Rouhani's visit to France this week, he said. The first delivery will take place by late March, Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said, according to Mehr news agency.

Iran's 250 commercial planes are 20 years old on average and 40 per cent of them are grounded, according to the Civil Aviation Organization.

"Our plan is to have both Boeing and Airbus because in the past we operated both, but that doesn't mean that if another company approaches we'll say, 'No,'" Mr. Parvaresh said. "Right now the situation is such that everyone has to come and market themselves. The situation has turned around."

The international sanctions on Iran, imposed as a way to halt its nuclear ambitions, were lifted last week after the Tehran government complied with the terms of a deal to curb the atomic program. Ending sanctions paved the way for Iran to purchase sorely needed aircraft to renew an aging fleet.

A spokesman for Airbus, in an e-mailed statement, declined to comment on any talks with Iran Air. "We are studying our way forward in view of the recent development – in full compliance with all international laws," according to the statement.

Sixteen commercial airlines operate in Iran and all need to expand and modernize their fleets, said Ali Abedzadeh, director of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, according to Iranian Students' News Agency. Iran needs to buy 150 aircraft with 250 seats and 300 wide body planes within a decade, he said.

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