By Julia Fioretti
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Iran’s state airline, which has just reached an agreement with Boeing Co to purchase new jetliners, can resume flights in the EU, the European Commission said on Thursday.
Iran is dangling the prospect of significant business for Western planemakers as it emerges from decades of sanctions.
While the European Commission, the EU’s executive, said Iranair could resume flights, some of the carrier’s aircraft would remain on the EU’s safety blacklist.
“I am happy to announce that we are now also able to allow most aircraft from Iranair back into European skies,” said EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc. The Commission said the decision followed a visit to Iran by the EU executive in April.
The Commission also removed Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air, a major buyer of Airbus and Boeing jets, from its safety blacklist.
Iranair will be allowed to fly all of its planes in the EU except the Boeing 747-200s, Boeing 747SPs and Fokker 100s, the Commission said.
Iran needs an estimated 400 jets to renew its fleet and prepare for projected growth, according to Iranian and Western estimates.
Tehran said on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with Boeing for the supply of jetliners, reopening the country’s skies to new U.S. aircraft for the first time in decades.
The Iranian flag carrier also agreed in January to buy 118 jets worth $27 billion from Airbus and is discussing further orders with Boeing.
The decision to remove Lion Air from the EU blacklist could also potentially lead to the Indonesian carrier buying more planes, analysts have said.
Lion’s five airlines operate a combined fleet of more than 200 aircraft, mostly Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s. The company, which plans a stock exchange listing possibly early next year, has around 500 more aircraft on order, and expects to take delivery of 40 aircraft this year.
The EU executive also removed Indonesia’s Citilink, Batik Air, Air Madagascar and all Zambian airlines from its blacklist.
(Story corrects ninth paragraph to show also discussing purchases with Boeing.)
(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Susan Fenton)