Saturday, February 20, 2016

Boeing Secures Iran License: U.S. government permits company to begin commercial talks with Iranian airlines

The Wall Street Journal
By Jon Ostrower
Updated Feb. 19, 2016 8:06 p.m. ET

Boeing Co. said Friday that it received a license from the U.S. government to begin commercial discussions with Iranian airlines, opening the door to what could be the first U.S. jet deliveries to the Islamic Republic since the 1970s.

Iranian carriers have among the oldest fleets in global aviation following decades of sanctions that have left them unable to leverage an advantageous geographical location and a domestic market of nearly 80 million people. Rapidly growing Gulf neighbors in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey have exploited their position and new-technology jets to fuel rapid expansion in commercial aviation.

Iran is seeking to quickly catch up and refresh its airlines with new aircraft, with leasing industry officials forecasting the country could support 300 to 600 new planes.

“The license permits us to engage approved airlines to determine their actual fleet requirements,” a Boeing spokesman said.

Airbus Group SE in January signed a cooperation agreement with Iranian officials for the purchase of 127 new aircraft that range in size from single-aisle jets all the way to its double-deck A380. Earlier this month, a joint venture between Airbus and Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA said Iran Air was purchasing as many as 40 small turboprop aircraft.

Boeing, which last year provided maintenance manuals to Iranian airlines, will be looking for government cues on how to cultivate long-dormant commercial ties in the potentially fertile market.

“We understand that the situation in the region is complicated and ever changing and we will continue to follow the U.S. government’s guidance as it relates to conducting business with Iran,” the Boeing spokesman said.

General Electric Co. said it, too, has submitted an application for a license to sell engines and spare parts to Iranian airlines, but has not yet been granted approval, according to a company spokeswoman.

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