26 October 2016
Airbus is expected to grab the bulk of Iran's planned purchase of 160 European airplanes. Photo: Reuters
Airbus is expected to grab the bulk of Iran's planned purchase of 160 European airplanes. Photo: Reuters

Back in business, Iran eyes 160 European planes, Boeing aircraft

Iran is planning to buy 160 European planes, including eight superjumbos, and a specified number of Boeing passenger aircraft in a spending spree fueled by the lifting of crippling western sanctions this month.

Transport Minister Abbas Akhoondi said Iran’s emergence from isolation would restore a “natural balance” in the region and urged foreigners to invest, Reuters reports.

“I hold your hands in friendship,” he told an audience of 300 airlines, suppliers, lessors and bankers at an aviation conference in Tehran.

World powers last week lifted crippling sanctions against Iran in return for Tehran complying with a deal to curb its nuclear ambitions.

The deal also released billions of dollars worth of frozen Iranian assets and opened the door for global companies that have been barred from doing business in Iran.

Akhoondi vowed to banish the middlemen who many say have profited from helping Iran evade sanctions by buying parts, and even whole aircraft, on the black market.

He told investors that anyone who approached them claiming to represent the government in negotiations would be “lying”.

A stampede of investors at the CAPA Iran Aviation Summit illustrated the potential for suppliers to Iran at a time when the industry faces concerns over the global economy.

It is a sign of Tehran’s determination to compete with established carriers across the Gulf, 

It also paved the way for a potential battle between domestic and foreign carriers to serve Iran’s markets, bolstered by tourists and investors touting for business.

Akhoondi told Reuters in an interview that Iran did not fear competition from foreign carriers and enjoyed competitive advantages because of its geography.

“I think it is a very natural position for Iran,” he said.

Iran said it would give priority to developing flag carrier Iranair, but would also support private carriers.

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