How Airbus Beat Boeing on Aircraft Sales to Iran

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A spokesman for Airbus has told The Wall Street Journal that the aircraft maker has been cleared to transfer 17 planes to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some of the planes could be delivered by the end of this year, according to the report.

In early February, Airbus announced that it had received an order for 118 commercial jets valued at $27 billion. About three weeks later Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) said it had received authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to begin talks with Iran about possible Boeing sales to the country’s airlines.

The Iranian order includes 21 aircraft in the Airbus A320ceo family, 24 A320neo planes, 27 A330ceo aircraft. 18 A330-900neo planes, 16 A350-1000s and 12 A380 superjumbo jets. Which planes are among the 17 released for delivery to Iran was not specified.

Boeing attributed the Airbus announcement to the fact that the European plane maker had submitted its application first and that OFAC operates on a “first-come, first-served” basis. In a two-step process, the agency first approved Boeing’s request to discuss a sale to Iran and must now approve any sale.

Boeing acknowledged in June that it had received an order from Iran of approximately the same size as the Airbus order, but it did not specify either the value of the order or the aircraft involved.

In February the combined fleet size of all Iranian carriers totaled about 160 planes, with flag carrier Iran Air’s fleet numbered at 45. The average age of an Iran Air plane was 26.9 years, with the youngest being six Airbus A320s that were just over 20 years old. The 747s are the oldest planes in the airline’s fleet.

Even though deliveries from Airbus and Boeing could begin soon, there is a possible hitch. In June, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s disclosed in a speech that it is “a very important and necessary task” for the country to rebuild its fleet, but then asked if it is a “priority.” The Supreme Leader also has questioned buying any goods made in the United States.

Boeing stock traded up about 1.3% at $129.45 on Wednesday’s report. The stock’s 52-week range is $102.10 to $150.59, and the 12-month consensus price target is $149.27.

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