Dubai: Boeing and General Electric (GE) have been granted licences by the United States government to sell spare parts for commercial aircraft to Iran under temporary sanctions relief that began in January.

“This was authorised for a limited period of time in an agreement US Secretary of State John Kerry reached late last year with Iranian officials. Companies still needed to be licensed, however, before transactions could occur,” a Boeing spokesperson stated.

Boeing will now discuss with Iranian officials what parts are needed.

The licence is reportedly “very limited,” allowing Boeing to only supply spare parts to its airplanes purchased by Iran before the 1979 revolution.

GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said that the US Treasury had approved the company’s application to service 18 engines sold to Iran in the late 1970s, Reuters reported.

Engines will be serviced at facilities owned by GE or by Germany’s GE licensed MTU Aero Engines.

Kennedy said GE would meet with Iranair, Iran’s flag carrier, and MTU in Istanbul this week.

Iran’s commercial aviation fleet is exceptionally old compared to global standards.

“Looking at the potential for all airframers in Iran, the average fleet age of Iran’s four largest carriers is over 20 years old, so spare parts are needed, especially considering aircraft have been grounded due to lack of parts,” stated Will Horton, senior analyst at CAPA — Centre for Aviation.

“But there is also the challenge, and cost, of supporting such old aircraft no longer in high use elsewhere,” he added.

Commercial aviation

An Iranian official told Reuters in November that Iran would need between 250 and 400 aircraft for its commercial aviation industry when and if sanctions are lifted.

Horton stated that the sheer size Iran’s commercial aviation needs encourages companies to lobby their governments to lift sanctions.

“Airframers and suppliers will no doubt want to support existing aircraft in hopes of later securing more lucrative new aircraft orders, when allowed to do so,” he stated.

The relaxation of sanctions and issuing of licences to Boeing and GE could further reinforce the Middle East’s reputation as a key aviation market.

“It means Iran has the potential to become the latest battleground for Airbus and Boeing in selling civilian airliners,” stated Daniel Tsang Founder and Chief Analyst at Hong Kong-based aviation consultancy, Aspire Aviation.

Nuclear activities

He added that, “This relaxation levels the playing field with Airbus given Iran Air’s stated preference of dealing with the French airframer.”

The sales would be the first between US aerospace companies and Iran since the 1979 revolution. The US has imposed sanctions on Iran since the 1979 US Embassy hostage crisis in Tehran but has broadened them in response to Iran’s nuclear activities.

Iran agreed to limit its nuclear ambitions in November for six months from January 20 in exchange for sanction relief from the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States.


With input from Reuters