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Image: Iran Air 747 jet
Iran Air already operates Boeing planes such as this 747 jet. (Aero Icarus Photo – CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Boeing Co. and Iran Air say they have signed a sale agreement for 80 jets, valued at a list price of $16.6 billion.

The deal announced today follows through on a memorandum of agreement that was laid out in June, as well as a U.S. government license that was issued to Boeing in September. The big question is whether the sale will continue to pass muster next year once the Trump administration and a new Congress have a chance to weigh in.

The agreement covers 50 single-aisle 737 MAX 8 jets, 15 wide-body 777-300ER jets, and 15 777-9s. That last bunch of jets will be derivatives of the 777-300ER, part of the 777X program that has yet to enter production.

Boeing said the first deliveries would be made in 2018, while Iran’s state-owned IRNA news agency quoted an aviation official as saying the jets will be delivered over the course of 10 years.

“Today’s agreement will support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs directly associated with production and delivery of the 777-300ERs and nearly 100,000 U.S. jobs in the U.S. aerospace value stream for the full course of deliveries,” Boeing said.

Boeing said the order will be formally posted to its online list of orders and deliveries “as contingencies are clear.”

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., issued a statement saying the deal was “good news for Washington state and will help support the thousands of good-paying jobs in my district that rely on trade and Boeing’s ability to compete in the global marketplace.”

However, not all of Larsen’s colleagues in Congress have been as upbeat about the deal. Last month, the House approved legislation that’s aimed at blocking any U.S. financing for commercial jet sales to Iran. The measure was stymied in the Senate, but opponents have said they’ll renew the fight in the next Congress.

The sale is an outgrowth of an international agreement that eased sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran’s pledge to curb its nuclear program. President-elect Donald Trump has called it “the stupidest deal of all time” and said he would seek renewed negotiations.

Trump has previously locked horns with Boeing over the projected cost of future Air Force One planes and the company’s plans to put a 737 completion and delivery facility in China. The president-elect met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg last week and said afterward that he was a “terrific guy.”

Iran Air is also working on a deal to purchase more than 100 planes from Airbus, Boeing’s rival. Reuters quoted an unnamed Iranian official as saying those negotiations were at the “very final stage” and should produce a formal agreement in the next couple of days.

Reuters’ Iranian source said the Boeing deal was subject in part to further agreements on financing, but added that money from the deal would not pass through the U.S. financial system.

Update for 6:40 p.m. PT Dec. 29: Iranian officials say the actual price that Iran Air negotiated with Boeing is about half the list price of $16.6 billion. That’s the norm for big jet purchase deals, based on an analysis conducted by The Wall Street Journal in 2012.

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