Manufacturer examines opportunities for fleet renewal in countries like Libya and Iran after US sanctions are lifted

Airbus is eyeing the urgent fleet-renewal requirements of carriers based in trade embargo-hit countries such as Libya and Iran, which it estimates will need as many as 50 new airliners within the next couple of years.

Airbus senior vice-president transaction and control, and deputy head of customer affairs, Christian Scherer says there are "some markets for aircraft manufacturers that are still untouched. For example, there is hope that when talks are held to lift the embargo against Libya that this market will open soon. But we can only offer Libya new aircraft when our hands are really free," he says.

Scherer expresses frustration at the political stance taken by the USA over trade sanctions against Libya and other embargoed countries. If the USA lifts an embargo against a state, Scherer fears, that country could come under political pressure to purchase US-manufactured aircraft in return.

"But the people for example in Iran or Libya also know that if we sell right now one Airbus to, let's say, Iran, then we will close our door automatically to selling aircraft to the USA in the future," says Scherer. "I know that for example Iran Air and Mahan Air are extremely interested in buying new Airbuses to phase out their ageing fleets," says Scherer.

Airbus believes Iranian airlines could order from its entire range, from the A320 narrowbody family up to and including the ultra-large A380, which could be used by Iran Air on its high-density routes from Tehran to London and Frankfurt.

"That's why we are little bit frustrated about these politics," says Scherer. "But on the other hand we are very optimistic for the future to have a good position in these special markets," he says.

The US government maintains sanctions against Iran and Libya, which it regards as sponsors of terrorism.

Source: Flight International