State TV: Iran invites Boeing to Tehran for aircraft talks


Associated Press

Iran has invited Boeing Co. to Tehran to negotiate a possible aircraft purchase, though Boeing said Friday it would only be offering the country “fleet planning.”

Iranian state television, as well as semiofficial Iranian news agencies, said Transportation Minister Abbas Akhoundi made the announcement Thursday. He gave no timeline for the visit but said U.S. officials gave Boeing “the green light” for commercial talks with Iran.

John Dern, a spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing, said the airplane manufacturer would only engage in “commercial passenger aircraft fleet planning with Iranian airlines approved by the U.S. government.”

Boeing’s U.S. license to work in Iran “does not cover sale or lease negotiations. Any engagement Boeing has with the Iranians will be limited to what is authorized by the license,” he said in a statement.

He declined to elaborate. “Beyond that, it is not our policy to discuss our plans for meetings with airlines,” he said.

Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita builds parts of all Boeing airliners, including 70 percent of its Next Generation 737 and 737 Max.

The nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, struck last summer, allows for airplane manufacturers to sell aircraft to Iran’s ailing airlines, which have relied on an aging fleet for years. However, separate U.S. sanctions on Iran remain in place, making doing business in the Islamic Republic complicated for American companies.

Iran’s current civil aviation fleet consists of 248 aircraft with an average age of 20 years, of which 100 are in storage.

In January, Iran Air signed a $25 billion deal to buy 118 aircraft from Airbus. The planes will be delivered to Iran over three years, beginning in 2016.

In February, the Iranian transportation minister announced a separate agreement with a French company to build a new terminal at the Tehran airport.