Airbus Deal at “Very Final Stage”
Flag carrier Iran Air is at the “very final stage” of formalizing a deal with Europe’s Airbus, having signed a $16.6 billion deal with Boeing earlier on Sunday, an unidentified Iran Air official told Reuters.
The Airbus deal, which is expected to involve a first batch of 50-60 jets, should be completed in the “next couple of days”, the official said.
Airbus delegates have arrived in Tehran for talks aimed at finalizing a deal to sell around 100 planes, deputy minister of roads and urban development, Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan said on Monday.
The representatives of the European aerospace giant arrived on Sunday just hours after Iran Air concluded the Boeing deal.
“An Airbus delegation has arrived in Tehran,” said Fakhrieh Kashan.
“We have started negotiations and if there are no problems, we will sign the agreement within a week for the purchase of around 100 planes,” he told AFP.
The two deals follow an intense final flurry of negotiations between Iran and western planemakers to formalize provisional contracts announced earlier this year.
The deal between Iran Air and US planemaker Boeing includes 50 narrow-body 737 MAX aircraft and 30 long-haul 777s, split equally between the 777-300ER, which is badly in need of an order boost, and the 406-seat 777-9, which is under development.
Also closing in on a deal to renew Iran’s aging fleet, kept going by smuggled or improvised parts after decades of sanctions, European turboprop maker ATR said it had received US approvals needed to finalize the sale of up to 40 aircraft.
The Iranian official said the Boeing deal was subject in part to further agreements on financing, but added that money from the deal would not pass through the US financial system.
Financial sources said Boeing has a financing plan for 15 777-300ER jets, which are expected to be delivered from 2018, but the rest of the financing may still have to be negotiated.
The Boeing contract, the biggest Iran-US deal since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, clears a major technical hurdle toward implementing last year’s pact between Iran and world powers to reopen trade in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities.
However, political opposition could yet threaten a deal that would provide a welcome boost to Boeing’s order book after a year in which it has lagged behind rival Airbus.
Boeing Pitches for US Job
“Today’s agreement will support tens of thousands of US jobs” associated with the production and delivery of the planes, Boeing said in its news release following the deal.
The intended recipient of Boeing’s message clearly seemed to be president-elect, Donald J. Trump, the New York Times reported.
Its carefully-worded statement is emblematic of the tightrope that America’s biggest exporters are walking amid his threats to shake up trade policy and undo the nuclear accord signed by the outgoing administration with Iran. That agreement lifted the American sanctions on Iran, making Boeing’s jet deal possible.
“There’s an emerging pattern of the United States turning its economic back to the rest of the world and that could be greatly damaging to the major export players like Boeing,” said Richard L. Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst.
Boeing and other export-driven firms, while fearful of Trump’s rhetoric, are hoping to make the case that they are exactly the types of companies that Trump should embrace.
Boeing, based in Chicago, is the nation’s top exporter in terms of the value of the goods it sells, which include midsize and giant airliners.
Sales of its jets have long been a part of American diplomacy, with foreign buyers having to decide whether to deal with Boeing from the US or Airbus from Europe.
Boeing, which employs about 150,000 people, makes most of its parts in the United States and exports most of its products, bringing in cash from overseas.