Iran marks comeback with talks to buy 160 European planes

Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:49pm EST
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By Tim Hepher

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran unveiled an expanded shopping list for more than 160 European planes - including 8 superjumbos - and dangled another big order in front of Boeing (BA.N: Quote) at Tehran's first major post-sanctions business gathering on Sunday.

In a sign of Tehran's determination to compete with established carriers across the Gulf, Transport Minister Abbas Akhoondi said Iran's emergence from isolation would restore a "natural balance" in the region and urged foreigners to invest.

"I hold your hands in friendship," he told an audience of 300 airlines, suppliers, lessors and bankers at an aviation conference in Tehran.

World powers last week lifted crippling sanctions against Iran in return for Tehran complying with a deal to curb its nuclear ambitions.

The deal also released billions of dollars worth of frozen Iranian assets and opened the door for global companies that have been barred from doing business in Iran.

Akhoondi vowed to banish the middlemen who many say have profited from helping Iran evade sanctions by buying parts, and even whole aircraft, on the black market.

He told investors that anyone who approached them claiming to represent the government in negotiations would be "lying".

A stampede of investors at the CAPA Iran Aviation Summit illustrated the potential for suppliers to Iran at a time when the industry faces concerns over the global economy.   Continued...

People are silhouetted past a logo of the Airbus Group during the Airbus annual news conference in Colomiers, near Toulouse January 13, 2015.   REUTERS/Regis Duvignau