A Russian-built Sukhoi Superjet 100 landed at Tehran's Mehrabad International airport on Feb. 12 with a team of engineers on board, as part of a renewed attempt by the company to find customers in Iran for its passenger jet. It could prove to be a fruitful venture for the firm, given the difficulty Iranian airlines have had in securing new aircraft from Western manufacturers over the past two years.

In the initial wave of aircraft orders which followed the lifting of most international sanctions on Iran in January 2016, the country’s airlines placed tens of billions of dollars’ worth of business with the U.S.’s Boeing and its main European rival, Airbus. Smaller orders were also placed with another European firm, turboprop maker ATR.

But while 11 ATR planes had been delivered by the end of 2017, the arrival of the larger jets from Airbus and Boeing is taking much longer, with just three Airbus deliveries to date and none from Boeing.

The slow progress in renewing Iran’s aging fleets of passenger jets is a direct result of the lingering U.S. sanctions on the country. This has meant deals need to be cleared by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before they can progress. In addition, arranging financing for the planes appears to have been a significant hurdle, with most major international banks avoiding any business with Iran lest they fall foul of U.S. sanctions.

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