Post-sanctions Iran invites Boeing for talks: Minister
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
AFP photoIran has invited U.S. plane manufacturer Boeing for talks on modernizing its fleet, Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi said March 3, weeks after Tehran’s nuclear deal took effect.
“After the authorization from the U.S. administration to Boeing, we have invited the company to begin talks on developing the country’s air fleet,” Akhoundi said, without giving a date, quoted by state television news agency IRIB.
Akhoundi’s deputy, Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, told AFP: “We never closed the doors to Boeing, and we are ready for negotiations whenever they come.”
Boeing said on Feb. 19 it had received authorization from the U.S. administration -despite the lack of Washington-Tehran diplomatic ties for more than three decades- to study the commercial plane market in Iran, in the wake of the lifting of nuclear sanctions in mid-January.
Iran has already ordered about 200 planes from three Western manufacturers since nuclear-related sanctions were lifted, notably for the purchase of 118 aircraft from European manufacturer Airbus, Boeing’s global rival.
The orders -mostly in the form of hire purchase- also include 50 planes from Brazil’s Embraer, the world’s third biggest commercial manufacturer, and up to 40 aircraft from Europe’s ATR which builds turboprop aircraft.
Kashan has said the Airbus deal alone -for 73 long-haul and 45 medium-haul aircraft -is worth between $10 and $11 billion. The planes- worth as much as $25 billion at list prices- are to be delivered over the next four years.
Iran needs 400 to 500 aircraft over the next decade to modernize its ageing fleet, according to the head of Iran’s civil aviation authority.
Before the nuclear deal with world powers under which Iran has curbed its atomic program in return for a lifting of international sanctions, an embargo dating from 1995 prevented Western manufacturers from selling equipment and spare parts to Iranian companies.
The restrictions, which have been blamed for crippling the industry, were partly lifted by an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that came into force in January 2014.
This allowed for the sale of spare parts, although direct sales of aircraft remained banned.
The current fleet in Iran, which has a poor air safety record, numbers around 140 planes with an average age of around 20 years, with many in desperate need of replacement.