Iran in­vites Boe­ing to talk air­craft deal

Chicago Sun-Times - - CITY BEAT - BY AMIR VAH­DAT

TEHRAN, Iran— Iran has in­vited Boe­ing Co. to Tehran to ne­go­ti­ate a pos­si­ble air­craft pur­chase, though Boe­ing said it would only be of­fer­ing the coun­try “fleet plan­ning.”

Ira­nian state tele­vi­sion, as well as semiof­fi­cial Ira­nian news agen­cies, said Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Ab­bas Akhoundi as mak­ing the an­nounce­ment on Thurs­day.

He gave no time­line for the visit but said U. S. of­fi­cials gave the Chicago- based com­pany “the green light” for com­mer­cial talks with Iran.

John Dern, a spokesman for Boe­ing, said Fri­day the air­plane man­u­fac­turer would only en­gage in “com­mer­cial pas­sen­ger air­craft fleet plan­ning with Ira­nian air­lines ap­proved by the U. S. govern­ment.”

Boe­ing’s U. S. li­cense to work in Iran “does not cover sale or lease ne­go­ti­a­tions. Any en­gage­ment Boe­ing has with the Ira­ni­ans will be lim­ited to what is au­tho­rized by the li­cense,” he said in a state­ment.

He de­clined to elab­o­rate. “Be­yond that, it is not our pol­icy to dis­cuss our plans for meet­ings with air­lines,” he said.

The nu­clear deal be­tween Iran and world pow­ers, struck last sum­mer, al­lows for air­plane man­u­fac­tur­ers to sell air­craft to Iran’s ail­ing air­lines, which have re­lied on an ag­ing fleet for years. How­ever, sep­a­rate U. S. sanc­tions on Iran re­main in place, mak­ing do­ing busi­ness in the Is­lamic Re­pub­lic very com­pli­cated for Amer­i­can com­pa­nies.

Iran’s cur­rent civil avi­a­tion fleet con­sists of 248 air­craft with an av­er­age age of 20 years, of which 100 are in stor­age.

In Jan­uary, Iran Air signed a $ 25 bil­lion deal to buy 118 air­craft from Air­bus. The planes will be de­liv­ered to Iran over three years, be­gin­ning in 2016.

In Fe­bru­ary, the Ira­nian trans­porta­tion min­is­ter an­nounced a sep­a­rate agree­ment with a French com­pany to build a new ter­mi­nal in Tehran air­port.

| ELAINE THOMP­SON/ AP

Boe­ing says it only will be dis­cussing “fleet plan­ning” with Iran.

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