Iran airliner purchase under Washington’s thumb (exclusive)

Iran airliner purchase under Washington’s thumb (exclusive)

Tehran, Iran, Sept. 19

By Mehdi Sepahvand – Trend:

CAPA Center for Aviation, a provider of independent aviation market information and analysis, says whether Iran manages to buy new aircraft depends on a green light from the US, despite the fact that the aviation group held a high-level conference in Tehran to help find a way to push through Iran’s aircraft deals.

“At the end of the day it comes down to what happens in Washington. Unfortunately that’s what we were hearing here today, but also every other day in the world,” CAPA Executive Chairman Peter Harbison told Trend September 19 on the sidelines of the conference.

During the conference, the parties, including Iran Minister of Transport Abbas Akhondi and foreign officials as high-level as UK Ambassador to Tehran Nicholas Hopton and his French and Australian counterparts Francois Senemaud and Ian Biggs, discussed the situation under which Iran’s attempts to buy airplanes have been hampered by the US despite the removal of sanctions.

Speaking on the first day of the conference on September 18, Akhondi blamed the US Treasury restrictions as the only snag that makes Iran’s airplane purchase deals impossible.

Right after the sanctions were removed in January, Iran signed a deal with Airbus over 118 new airplanes. Tehran made a similar deal with Boeing in a bid to refurbish its ageing fleet.

US approval of Iran’s purchase of Airbus aircraft is necessary because more than 10 percent of components of Airbus planes are of American origin. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has refrained from sanctioning business deals with Iran.

Deputy Managing Director of Boeing Martin Benturd said September 16 that the company is prepared to sell planes to Iran, adding however that the sales should be permitted by the OFAC.

Intense competition between two giant aircraft manufacturers has posed obstacles over Iran’s purchase of Airbus planes. Meanwhile, the US is seeking to resolve the issue of a possible deal on exporting Boeing aircraft to Iran before issuing the authorization for Airbus purchase.

Harbison further expressed hope that the conference in Tehran will help as much as it can to ease the restrictions.

“The most benefit is talking about these issues in the open and exchanging views, that is the main benefit. So, I think that is the good part of it, we can echo that and that is the role we are playing,” the CAPA chairman said.

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