NEW YORK, United States — Boeing said Friday it has received the green light from the Obama administration to study the commercial airplane market in Iran as it eyes opportunity following the lifting of nuclear sanctions.
“We have applied for and received a license to assess the current commercial passenger airplane needs of US government-approved Iranian airlines,” Boeing said.
“The license permits us to engage approved airlines to determine their actual fleet requirements.”
The license frees Boeing from some of the restrictions of sanctions the US continues to place on Iran over its past support for alleged terror activities and human rights abuses.
Boeing said it is working to keep up with rivals Bombardier and Airbus. Airbus in January secured a deal to sell Iran 118 planes for about $25 billion.
“We understand that the situation in the region is complicated and ever-changing and we will continue to follow the US government’s guidance as it relates to conducting business with Iran,” Boeing said.
Western manufacturers were barred for nearly two decades from selling aircraft or equipment and spare parts to Iranian companies.
That embargo is blamed for crippling the country’s aviation industry. Iran’s civil aviation fleet is now around 140 aircraft, with an average age of around 20 years, and many are in desperate need of replacement.
The restrictions were partly lifted by an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that came into force in January 2014, and Boeing that year obtained US licenses to sell airplane parts in Iran.
In January of this year, nuclear-related sanctions on the country were lifted following the international nuclear agreement. However, the terror and rights-related sanctions that remain in place still largely ban US companies from business with Iran without the special exceptions or licenses issued by the US Treasury.
The Treasury has said they would permit companies to sell commercial aircraft on a licensed basis in Iran.