UK Export Finance "in talks" to facilitate Iran's purchase of Airbus, Boeing aircraft

By bne IntelliNews May 5, 2017

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is in talks with Iran to facilitate the financing of aircraft sales to national flag carrier Iran Air, Iranian Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan told Reuters on May 4.

British export credit arm UKEF had tentatively offered backing for at least some Airbus jets built in Britain, France, Germany and Spain and might also offer some support in multi-billion-dollar transactions concerning the acquisition of aircraft from US planemaker Boeing, he reportedly added, saying: "We have received some offers from UKEF, that are under review by Iran."

In all IranAir is planning to purchase more than 180 jets from Airbus and Boeing, with its plans made possible by the lifting of most economic sanctions applied to Tehran by the major powers in the wake of the November 2015 deal that curbed Iran’s nuclear activities. But with the US Trump administration remaining hostile to the multilateral nuclear agreement, financing for the big-ticket purchases is tough to secure for the Iranians because most Western banks, nervous of unilateral sanctions retained by Washington, are refraining from offering the Iranians banking arrangements.

So far, IranAir has only taken delivery of three Airbus jets, for which it paid cash, industry sources told Reuters.

If UKEF provides support for Boeing deliveries, it is likely that it would insist on a proportion of jet parts being made in the UK. That might mean the planes having to have Rolls-Royce engines.

In a boost to Boeing’s prospects of selling aircraft to Iran, US Senator John McCain, who is usually hostile to the Islamic Republic, said in early April that he saw a deal for the proposed supply of Boeing aircraft to Iran’s Aseman Airlines as “completely legal”.

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