(Repeats story first publised on Jan. 30 with no changes)
* Rouhani hopes plane deals will attract investors - analyst
* Visa row could encourage foreign banks to wait and see
* Iran seen keen to speed up deliveries ahead of election
* Airbus jet showcases sanctions deal: tmsnrt.rs/2jNW4kA
By Parisa Hafezi and Tim Hepher
ANKARA/PARIS, Jan 30 A row over U.S. visa bans
may further weaken Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's efforts to
attract foreign investors to Iran, particularly if it slows the
implementation of deals for Western aircraft, officials and
The deals for 80 Boeing jets and 100 from Europe's
Airbus struck last year are seen by Western investors
as a crucial test as they seek business in Iran in the wake of
the nuclear deal that led to the lifting of most sanctions.
People involved in the airline deals say it is too early to
assess the impact of the U.S. visa ban but worry that hardening
rhetoric in Tehran and Washington can only add to a list of
complications that could slow, if not endanger, the jet sales.
While Airbus planes come from Europe, the administration of
U.S. President Donald Trump can veto the sale of all the planes
to Iran because of the widespread use of U.S. parts in the
aircraft which need U.S. export licences.
The visa ban could also prolong a hiatus in talks about
financing deliveries of jets, with European and Chinese banks
reluctant to put up money to back Iranian jet purchases for fear
of a backlash against their U.S. operations.
"It will make people more nervous, more risk-averse, more
inclined to wait and see," said a senior Western financier, who
asked not to be named.
Iranian officials say that even before Trump imposed
restrictions on travel to the United States from seven mainly
Muslim countries, concerns about what the new U.S. president
might do had already put the brakes on post-sanctions business.
During his election campaign, Trump criticised the nuclear
accord six major powers struck with Iran and his victory in
November increased uncertainty around Iran's investment drive.
"The process has been very slow ... foreign investors were
very interested to work in Iran, but since Trump's election the
process has almost stopped. Investors are worried about possible
U.S. punishments if they work with Iran," a senior economy
ministry official told Reuters.
Final decisions on whether the plane deals go ahead may well
lie with Trump and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
the ultimate broker in the country's faction-ridden politics who
has the last say on key matters.
Since taking office this month, Trump has largely ignored
the Iranian jet deals in public, even as he lambasted U.S.
aerospace firms including Boeing about other projects.
For now, at least, Boeing appears comfortable that Trump
won't automatically block its deal, though questions also remain
over further approvals from Iran, two industry sources said.
Boeing and Europe's Airbus declined comment.
Still, any long-term U.S. travel curbs could also undermine
the case for long-distance jets capable of linking Tehran with
expatriate communities in cities such as Los Angeles. Boeing
plans to start delivering its large 777 jets in 2018.
IranAir has already cancelled orders for Airbus A380
superjumbos, initially meant to signal its ambitions to compete
on equal terms with the hubs of Gulf rivals.
Besides the Boeing and Airbus orders, state airline IranAir
is planning to buy 20 small Franco-Italian ATR turboprops to
help expand economic development to smaller Iranian cities.
But officials say a final deal has been held up due to
uncertainty over some licences for engines made by a Canadian
subsidiary of Pratt & Whitney, America's top military engine
maker and supplier to the colossal F-35 fighter project.
Pratt & Whitney is seen to be wary of the political risks of
dealing with Iran, especially with the F-35 project at the
centre of Trump's criticism of aerospace firms for going over
A Pratt & Whitney Canada spokesman said it was, "working
closely with ATR to ensure all necessary licenses are in place
prior to providing any products or services".
The renewal of Iran's unsafe, elderly fleet is also a major
political battleground ahead of presidential elections in May as
Rouhani's failure to boost the economy a year after the lifting
of sanctions intensifies political infighting.
Hardliners blame Rouhani for failing to deliver a swift
improvement in domestic living standards following the nuclear
deal, at a time when prices for oil exports are low and the
promised foreign investment has yet to arrive.
They have singled out long-range jets for particular
criticism, arguing that they only benefit rich travellers.
"The economy is the main factor for most of the Iranian
voters ... Rouhani was hoping that the deal with major
planemakers will encourage other investors to come to Iran,"
said political analyst Hamid Farahvashian.
"That is why hardliners are mainly focused on criticising
this deal. Basically, Rouhani's political career depends on this
One senior Iranian official said he doubted the aircraft
deals would be ditched altogether.
"I don't think the deal will be cancelled because Rouhani
signed it with the approval of the Supreme Leader ... but he
might be forced to cancel some of the orders to save the deals,"
said one senior official.
Others were more cautious, saying foreign investors would
avoid being targeted by Trump for doing business with Iran.
"This is good news for Rouhani's rivals," said another
senior official, referring to the U.S. visa restrictions.
For now, IranAir appears anxious is get airplanes into the
country as an urgent priority ahead of May's presidential
election, demonstrating tangible results from the nuclear deal.
But so far, just one aircraft has been delivered: an Airbus
A321, paid for in cash. It was promptly deployed widely on
domestic routes in an apparent effort to showcase the benefits
of the lifting of sanctions.
In its first 12 days, Iran's first brand-new jet in decades
covered 46,000 km (29,000 miles) between 15 cities, from the
Kurdish city of Kermanshah in the West to the Shi'ite holy city
of Mashhad in the northeast, according to FlightRadar24 data.
(Additional reporting by Allison Lampert; editing by David