PHOTO: Boeing — Will it replace France’s Airbus as supplier of passenger planes to Iran?
Pushing back the Supreme Leader’s injunction against dealing with US companies after Iran’s nuclear agreement with the 5+1 Powers, the Rouhani Government has approached American aircraft manufacturer Boeing over a multi-billion-dollar purchase to modernize its passenger fleet.
Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi said the invitation was made after the Obama Administration approved Boeing’s involvement in talks.
Akhoundi did not say when Boeing officials will visit Iran, but his deputy, Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, explained, “We never closed the doors to Boeing, and we are ready for negotiations whenever they come.”
In late January, two weeks after implementation of the July 2015 nuclear deal began with the lifting of US and European Union sanctions, France and Iran announced a $27 billion deal for 118 A380 Airbus aircraft. The contract was a centerpiece of President Rouhani’s visit to France.
However, on February 21 — two days after Boeing said the US Government had authorized studies of the Iranian market — Farhad Parvaresh, the managing director of Iran Air, said “conditions” put the delivery of the A380s in doubt. He said Iran might buy smaller Airbus models such as the A350.
A spokesman for Boeing, John Dern, said talks were “limited” for now to a license for planning discussions. A separate license from the US Government is required to sell aircraft to Iran.
Iran has set a target of obtaining 500 commercial planes to renovate its fleet of 248 aircraft with an average age of 20 years. About 100 of the aircraft are in storage.
The Supreme Leader had maintained that the only discussions with the US Government and American firms would be over the implementation of the nuclear agreement and the lifting of sanctions. Iranian officials have specifically said that they will seek European, but not American, investment in Iran’s energy sector.