Economy, Domestic Economy

US Republicans Lobbying Against Boeing, Airbus Deals

US Republicans Lobbying Against Boeing, Airbus DealsUS Republicans Lobbying Against Boeing, Airbus Deals

As the US Treasury Department decides whether to license sales of Boeing and Airbus commercial aircraft to Iran, opponents of last year’s nuclear pact with the Islamic Republic have launched a lobbying campaign against the deals.

The international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program made such sales possible by easing sanctions on Tehran, but some members of the US Congress who oppose it want to block the proposed sales of some 200 jetliners, worth about $50 billion at list prices, to renew Iran Air’s aging fleet, Reuters reported.

Boeing and Airbus, the world’s two largest planemakers, struck provisional agreements with the Iranian carrier earlier this year.

The Republican-majority Congress could pass legislation to block the sales even if the Treasury Department approved them. The House of Representatives last month passed two amendments that would have stopped the sales, although to become law they would have to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

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Aviation industry experts said treasury likely would not approve the sales until after the Nov. 8 US presidential election, even though the companies would like to move more quickly.

The campaign season is “not the time to push it,” said Adam Pilarski, a senior vice president at the Avitas aviation consultancy in Virginia. “Once we have a resolution of who the president is, calmer heads will prevail. It is business that is good for the US.”

Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state under Obama, supports the nuclear deal. Republican candidate Donald Trump opposes it.

The treasury had no immediate response to a question on the status of the licensing request.

Airbus Spokesman Stefan Schaffrath declined comment on the lobbying campaign, saying the company was working with US authorities to ensure that all its activities complied with applicable laws and regulations.

John Dern, a Boeing spokesman, said the company is continuing to talk with approved Iranian airlines, that all its actions to date have been licensed by the US government and that any final agreements also would need approval.

Since it is based in Chicago, Boeing must obtain a license from Treasury before the sale can go through. France-based Airbus must also obtain a license, as would virtually any aircraft maker, because its planes contain more than 10% US content.

Supporters of the Boeing sale say American firms will lose out to foreign competitors, if the US government bars sales to Iran.

Boeing’s chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, speaking last month at the Farnborough International Airshow in Britain, said if his company could not sell planes to Iran Air then “nobody should”.

Iranian officials, impatient to begin rejuvenating the country’s aging fleet of 250 aircraft, of which more than a third are said to be grounded, have hinted they may go elsewhere to buy planes.

They have expressed interest in a midsize jet under development by Japan’s Mitsubishi conglomerate.

Embraer of Brazil and Canada’s Bombardier are also marketing their aircraft in Iran.

According to Iran’s Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan, the country needs 500 new aircraft in the next seven to eight years to modernize its aging fleet battered by years of sanctions.