• Planes to be purchased in equal numbers between Airbus and Boeing
  • State considering leasing, foreign loans and state funds for the purchase
  • Boeing says nothing is imminent until US goverment gives clearance to sell

Iran’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAO) says it plans to buy 80 to 90 commercial planes annually within the next few years in a bid to boost the country’s ailing aviation sector.

The state will be procuring planes in equal quantity between aviation majors Airbus and Boeing, according to CAO caretaker director Mohammad Khodakarami, who was quoted by Iran’s news agency IRNA.

Khodakarami said the lifting of bans on selling and leasing planes, including engines and parts, is an important final text to the recently concluded nuclear deal agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries.

Iran would need at least $20bn to fund the initial renovation of its fleet and it is currently exploring several potential fund sources, including leasing, foreign loans and state funds.

Even the GCC-based airlines utilised multiple funding sources including leasing, bonds and export credit agencies (ECA) for their air fleet expansion in recent years.

While the lifting of all major economic sanctions against Iran is not expected until early 2016, investors across sectors and geographies have started initiating direct discussions with various government agencies in Iran for potential investment opportunities.

While keen to compete for business in Iran, Boeing says it is still awaiting guidance from the US government on the next steps.

“The recently announced multilateral nuclear agreement opened the door to commercial airplane sales, but only after international inspectors verify that Iran has met a long list of conditions related to its nuclear programme,” says Bernard Dunn, president of Boeing Middle East. “Even then, we would need a licence from the US government authorising airplane sales before we could compete for business in that market. So nothing is imminent.”

Iran’s aviation sector, including its air fleet and airports, is a key priority for the government as it plays a crucial role in reviving its tourism and logistics sectors.

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