Doubts grow over Airbus A380 sale to Iran: sources

Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:25pm EDT
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By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - As Western planemakers seek to finalize lucrative deals to sell some 200 jets to Iran, doubts are growing over the sale of a dozen Airbus AIR.PA A380 superjumbo jets to the country's national flag carrier, several people familiar with deal said.

Iran's return to the international market for new aircraft after decades making do with an antiquated fleet is one of the biggest business opportunities opened by the lifting of sanctions after a deal to rein in its nuclear programme.

The order for the double-decker superjumbo jetliners grabbed attention in January as part of a provisional deal for 118 Airbus jets worth $27 billion signed in Paris in the presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The inclusion of the world's largest jetliner was hailed as a symbol of thawing relations and a sign of Iran's determination to compete economically with political rivals on the Arab side of the Gulf that fly the jet.

The order also threw a lifeline to the A380 itself, following a slump in orders that has left the future of one of Europe's highest profile industrial projects in doubt.

But people familiar with the deal say there are increasing signs that Tehran is having second thoughts about whether to take delivery.

"We always made clear this is an option," an Iranian official told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

"It is possible to switch to other models," he added.   Continued...

An Airbus A380, the world's largest jetliner, generates vortex during a flying display at the 51st Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo