Iran announced Sunday it had finalized a $16.8 billion deal with Boeing to purchase 80 passenger planes — an agreement made possible by last year's landmark nuclear agreement.
Iran's state-run IRNA news agency reported that 50 Boeing 737s and 30 Boeing 777s would be delivered over the next decade, in the biggest agreement to be struck with an American company since the 1979 revolution and U.S. Embassy takeover.
Boeing said the deal will support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs directly associated with production and delivery of the 777s and nearly 100,000 U.S. jobs overall. The first airplanes under this agreement are scheduled for delivery in 2018.
In September, Washington granted permission to Boeing and its European competitor Airbus to sell billions of dollars' worth of aircraft to Iran. The U.S. and other world powers agreed last year to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for it curbing its nuclear activities.
President-elect Donald Trump and several Republican lawmakers have criticized the nuclear deal, but it's unclear whether they would scrap the agreement, which was reached with Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
Iranian Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi, who attended the signing ceremony, said it was a "historic" day for Iranian aviation and that the deal would create 8,000 jobs for Iranians.
"The deal has a clear message for the world: we support peace and security as well as the growth of Iran based on a win-win policy," he was quoted as saying. "We hope that despite changes in the U.S. administration, the country will remain loyal to its commitments.
The Republican-led House of Representatives last month voted to bar commercial aircraft sales to Iran in a move that could block the Boeing deal. That legislation must still pass the Senate, where it will likely face opposition from Democrats. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk before he leaves office on Jan. 20.
Boeing made a point of saying it worked closely with the U.S. government throughout the deal-making process and will continue to "follow all license requirements." The Iran Air deal "will support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs" linked to the 777s alone, it said.
The plane maker said the deal value was based on list prices, though in practice customers typically negotiate discounts for bulk orders.
Most of Iran's aging fleet of 250 commercial planes was purchased before 1979, and as of June only 162 were operational, with the rest grounded because of a lack of spare parts. Iran Air, whose website lists a fleet of 43 planes, offers direct flights to over 30 international destinations, including London.