Iran in talks to buy 48 Airbus helicopters: report

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DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran is holding talks with European planemaker Airbus to buy 48 helicopters for civilian use, an Iranian official was on Saturday quoted as saying, as Iran continues its shopping spree of Western aircraft after the lifting of sanctions.

“The Health Ministry is planning to order 45 HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) helicopters and the purchase is being negotiated by the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development,” Iran’s Financial Tribune daily quoted Deputy Minister Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan as saying.

“Ports and Maritime Organization is also planning to hold a tender to purchase three search-and-rescue helicopters,” he added.

An Airbus Helicopters spokesman said: “We don’t comment on discussions we may or may not be having with potential customers”.

Iran has ordered more than 200 planes since international sanctions against the country were lifted last year in return for curbs on the country’s nuclear activities.

Flag-carrier IranAir has ordered 100 planes from Airbus, 80 from U.S. rival Boeing (BA.N) and 20 ATR turboprops, but implementing the deals has been hampered by uncertainty over financing.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he did not believe that Iran was living up to the spirit of the 2015 deal to curtail its nuclear weapons program. But it was not immediately clear whether Washington may take measures that could affect Tehran’s plane purchases.

In June, Airbus said two other Iranian airlines had committed to buying 73 planes in a last-minute flurry of deals for the aircraft manufacturer at the Paris Airshow.

Fakhrieh-Kashan said Iran was holding negotiations to merge the helicopter order into the IranAir-Airbus contract signed in December, Financial Tribune reported.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom, additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Stephen Powell

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