Boeing Gets OK to Enter Iran Market

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Nearly three weeks after archrival Airbus announced an order from Iran Air for 118 new jets valued at $27 billion, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) has received the go-ahead from the U.S. government to resume talking to approved Iranian carriers about possible sales. Boeing received permission to sell airplane parts to Iranian airlines in 2014, and the approval the company received Friday will require a separate license before any sales are completed.

Iran has been barred from buying new aircraft from Western makers since the 1970s, and demand for new planes could be as high as 500 planes, at a rate of 50 planes a year for a decade.

Iran Air also includes six Boeing 747s in its fleet, and the average age of the four 747-200s is 35.1 years and the average age of the two 747SPs is 37.8 years. An Iranian official noted last month that the airline is considering adding Boeing 737s and 777s to its fleet.

With the lifting of sanctions on Iran, the country is once more able to export oil, its main source of income, even though the price of crude is near multiyear lows. There is no guarantee that Boeing will take any order from Iranian carriers, nor is it a cinch that any or all the orders will be fulfilled. There is even the possibility that the sanctions could be reimposed by a future U.S. president.


The current Iranian fleet numbers about 160 planes, according to a report at Bloomberg News, and Iran Air’s fleet numbers 45, according to Planespotters.net. The average age of an Iran Air plane is 26.9 years, with the youngest being six Airbus A320s that are just over 20 years old. The 747s are the oldest planes in the airline’s fleet.

Of more concern to investors on Friday, however, was the low number of orders that materialized at this week’s Singapore Airshow. Boeing wrote orders for a total of around $1.75 billion from China’s Okay Airways and Papua New Guinea’s Air Niugini. At the 2014 Singapore show, Asia’s largest, aircraft makers took orders valued at $32 billion, compared with deals worth $12.3 billion at this year’s show.

Boeing stock traded down about 2.2% at $115.03 at the end of the noon hour Friday. The stock’s 52-week range is $102.10 to $158.83.