INSIGHT-Aviation giants tread carefully in test case for post-sanctions Iran

Fri Jan 22, 2016 3:43am EST
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* Iran said to need at least 400 jets in next decade

* Jetmakers adopt cautious tone despite big potential market

* Suppliers assess legal, regulatory, political risks

* Jetliner demand seen as test case for reopening business

By Tim Hepher and Conor Humphries

DUBLIN, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Freed from nuclear-related sanctions, Iran has signalled its appetite to buy more than 100 Western planes, a prospect that would usually have the giants of the $130 billion-a-year jet industry scrambling for a piece of the action.

But a muted response from both Airbus and arch-rival Boeing underscores the lingering uncertainty and complications of doing business with Tehran.

Western and Iranian officials say Iran will require at least 400 jets over a decade to replenish its ageing fleet. Of those, 100-200 are pressingly needed, and would be worth over $20 billion at list prices.

That makes it a hugely enticing market at a time when planemakers are facing a slowdown after years of strong orders.   Continued...