April 25, 2016 / 12:05 AM / in 2 years

Bombardier says Iranian sales talks progress, denies new airline

Montreal (Reuters) - Reports that Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) is involved in launching an airline in Iran are inaccurate, the Canadian planemaker said on Sunday, although it confirmed it was in talks for sales as its executive chairman visited the country to drum up business.

A Bombardier flag flutters amidst storm clouds at the Singapore Airshow at Changi Exhibition Center February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su - RTX27GZA

Bombardier Executive Chairman Pierre Beaudoin led a delegation of company aviation and rail executives to Iran last week, but no deal has been reached yet on sales with Iranian customers, company spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera said on Sunday.

Aviation Iran reported on Saturday that Bombardier signed a memorandum of understanding with officials from Iran’s Qeshm Free Zone on establishing an airline.

Citing an anonymous source, Bloomberg reported on Sunday that Qeshm Free Zone officials hoped to conclude a deal with Bombardier in the next two months on a project to set up an airline in the southern Qeshm island.

De la Barrera said by phone that Bombardier did not plan to launch and run a new airline, but she could not say specifically whether the Montreal-based company was holding talks to sell planes to an Iranian start-up.

“We build, market and sell aircraft and trains,” she said.

She said the company’s talks in the country were progressing.

“We are advancing in discussions,” she said. “We are visiting more often.”

Bombardier’s new CSeries passenger jet is years behind schedule, billions of dollars over budget and has won relatively few orders so far compared with its rivals.

Canada said in February it was lifting some sanctions against Iran, allowing Bombardier to compete against planemakers Boeing Co (BA.N) and Airbus Group SE (AIR.PA).

A delegation from Boeing visited Iran earlier in April to discuss sales of jetliners, while its European rival, Airbus, agreed in January to sell Iran 118 planes worth about $27 billion at list prices.

The nuclear agreement last year between Iran and six world powers allowed for the easing of some sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.

Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by Ethan Lou in Toronto; Editing by Peter Cooney

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