Economy, Business And Markets

Canadian Planemaker Pushes Ahead With Iran Sales Talks

Canadian Planemaker Pushes Ahead With Iran Sales TalksCanadian Planemaker Pushes Ahead With Iran Sales Talks

Pierre Beaudoin, the executive chairman of Canadian multinational aerospace and transportation company Bombardier Inc., led a delegation to Iran last week to drum up business and hold talks with Iranian officials.

This follows an inrush of companies seeking a share of the country’s largely untapped aviation market after economic sanctions were lifted three months ago.

Canada said in February it was lifting some sanctions against Iran, allowing Bombardier to compete against planemakers Boeing and Airbus.

“We’ve had continued discussions; they’re exploratory discussions, with a number of people there for transport solutions required for the region and what we can offer,” said Marianella de la Barrera, Bombardier’s manager for public affairs and communications.

While confirming Beaudoin’s travel to Iran, she declined to comment on the content of the talks. The company has “identified significant opportunities in the region with regards to commercial aviation sector”, she said.

On Sunday, Bloomberg quoted an unnamed spokesman of Qeshm Free Zone as saying that the discussions revolved around a project to set up an airline in the southern Iranian island of Qeshm and that the FTZ officials hoped to conclude a deal with Bombardier in the next two months.

Later, citing De la Barrera, Reuters ruled out the Bloomberg report as inaccurate, saying Bombardier did not plan to launch and run a new airline. However, she confirmed that the Montreal-based planemaker was in talks for sales of aircraft.

“We are advancing in discussions,” she said. “We are visiting more often.”

Aerospace companies are looking to gain footholds in Iran after economic sanctions starved the nation of technology and capital. Boeing held talks with Iranian airlines earlier this month and President Hassan Rouhani ordered 118 jetliners worth about $27 billion from Airbus in January.

Ali Abedzadeh, the head of Iran Civil Aviation Organization, said on Monday that based on the preliminary deal with Airbus, five to eight jetliners, including 320s and 330s will be delivered by the end of 2016, Mehr News Agency reported.

Before the new Liberal Canadian government said it was lifting sanctions against Iran, Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion lamented that by maintaining sanctions against Iran, Canada is only hurting its own industries.

“If Airbus is able to do it, why (will) Bombardier not be able to do it? In which way (is it) helping Canada, or the Iranian people, or Israel, or anyone, that Canada is hurting its own industry?” Dion was quoted as saying.

The former Conservative government of Canada cut all diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012. The Conservatives lost power to the Liberals in an October election.

Bombardier’s new C-series passenger jet is years behind schedule, billions of dollars over budget and has won relatively few orders so far compared with its rivals.