Iran in Talks with Alternative Companies to Replace Boeing, Airbus

BoeingOn November 17, the US House of Representative passed a legislation that would prohibit the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran. If approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama, the bill would bar the Department of Treasury from permitting Airbus and Boeing to do business with Tehran.

After most of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were lifted in January, Airbus and Boeing signed preliminary agreements with Iran for the sale and lease of more than 200 planes with a total worth of about $50 billion.

President Obama has indicated he will veto the bill. Many Democrats in the Senate, too, object to the ban and argue that it could derail the nuclear agreement and cost tens of thousands of jobs in America.

Inside Iran, hardliners described the bill as another violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Fars News, a semi-official news agency close to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said statements by Boeing’s officials indicate “agreements with Iran had no value and that the company as an American business will follow the orders of Trump as America’s next president.” Fars also criticized the Rouhani government for incorrectly depicting the aircraft deal as a JCPOA success. “The withdrawal of Airbus and Boeing companies after the election of a Republican as America’s president shows that post-JCPOA accords are hanging by a hair.” Another article in Javan Online, also an IRGC mouthpiece, echoed a similar view.

But Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi cautioned that the legislation had a long way to go before becoming law. “In the past year, many legislations have been introduced in the [US] Congress, but none could be executed… We will not take this bill at Congress seriously. But if it becomes serious, we will respond as required.” Asghar Fakhria Kashan, a member of Iran’s negotiating team with Airbus and Boeing, said the companies had not formally informed Tehran about any changes yet.

Other Iranian outlets report that Tehran, mindful of changes in the government in Washington, is already negotiating with Japan’s Mitsubishi, Italy’s ATR and China’s Comac as alternatives to Airbus and Boeing.