Airframers Brace for Fallout of U.S. Withdrawal from Iran Deal

 - May 8, 2018, 4:25 PM

(Updated May 9 to reflect Treasure Department announcement about scope of sanctions)

The Trump administration’s decision Tuesday to withdraw from the 2015 accord known as the Iran nuclear deal will cost Boeing, Airbus and ATR billions of dollars worth of airliner sales to the Islamic Republic. Although in a statement Boeing said it will work with the U.S. government on “the next steps,” a pair of conditional contracts calling for the sale of 110 airplanes will become worthless now that the administration announced Tuesday evening that it would fully re-impose sanctions at the end of a 90-day "wind-down" period. Continued deliveries from Airbus and ATR, which began last year following issuance of licenses from the U.S. Treasury Department, also stand effected due to the high proportion of U.S. content in their airplanes. In a separate statement to AIN, an Airbus spokesman issued a guarded response. “We're carefully analyzing the announcement and will be evaluating next steps consistent with our internal policies and in full compliance with sanctions and export control regulations,” he said. “This might take some time.”

Notwithstanding the scope of Boeing’s potential orders, which include fifty 737 Max 8s, fifteen 777-300ERs and fifteen 777-9s to Iran Air and another thirty 737 Max jets to Iran Aseman Airlines, the U.S. airframer has suggested that any decision to withdraw from the Iran deal would effectively do no damage to its delivery backlog. In fact, after postponing first deliveries last year, Boeing again deferred all scheduled deliveries to Iran this year “in line with the U.S. government process,” company CEO Dennis Muilenburg told analysts during an April 25 earnings call.

“We're continuing to manage our overall 777 production skyline very effectively and understand the risks and implications around the Iranian aircraft deal,” said Muilenburg. “First and foremost, it’s important again to restate that we continue to follow the U.S. government's lead here, and everything is being done per that process.”

Concerns have centered on how the loss of the Iranian orders could affect the 777 line, in particular, as Boeing readies for the transition between production of the -300ER to the 777X in 2020.

“I can tell you with confidence that we've continued to build risk mitigation into our 777 production plan,” added Muilenburg. “The plan that we outlined for you, the production rate that we've put in place is not dependent on the Iranian orders. If those orders do come to fruition, if we do ultimately deliver airplanes, those represent opportunities for us.”