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Boeing cleared for Iran talks after $27bn Airbus haul

Washington / Bloomberg

Boeing Co. is finally open for business in Iran. The US government cleared the manufacturer to begin talking with approved Iranian carriers about their fleet needs, a first step toward entering the country’s resurgent aircraft market, Boeing said. The planemaker will still need a separate license to complete any commercial jetliner sales.
Europe’s Airbus Group SE, which faced fewer restrictions, grabbed an early lead with a $27 billion order announced on the day nuclear sanctions were eased last month. While European aerospace rivals began scoping out potential sales last year, Boeing wasn’t allowed to veer beyond safety-related items such as the aircraft maintenance manuals it sold to Iran Air Tours.
Boeing had been a notable no-show as the country’s aviation market re-opened, skipping a January aviation gathering in Tehran and causing Iran Air Chairman FarhadParvaresh to suggest that the company was “lagging behind a bit.” The planemaker said it was following a licensing process outlined by the U.S. government.
“We understand that the situation in the region is complicated and ever changing and we will continue to follow the U.S. government’s guidance,” Boeing said in an e-mailed statement Friday.
Boeing shares fell 2.1 percent to $115.16 at the close in New York. The stock has dropped 20 percent this year, the second-worst performance among the 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Boeing faces risks and uncertain rewards as it vies with Airbus and others to replace Iran’s museum-vintage fleet. There’s the prospect of political backlash, given the Iranian leaders’ penchant for anti-US and anti-Israeli rhetoric.
“Selling to Iran is a lot different than selling to Dubai,” says Loren Thompson, aerospace analyst at the Lexington Institute.
“They may be in the same part of the world, but the leaders in Tehran are very controversial in Washington,” pointed out Thompson.

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