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April 16, 2024
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The airline was Iran’s first privately owned airline and started flying in 1992.  Starting with two TU-154s, the airline added A300 and A310s.  As the airline grew it undertook some interesting fleet changes.  It managed to add aircraft all through the sanctions period.  This action did not happen quietly.

In 2013, the US treasury added to sanctions in place against Mahan Air.  Yet the airline’s fleet grew.  As the fleet grew, so did its network. (Mahan’s route network in December 2014)

The most peculiar aspect of all this is that while the airline was blacklisted it still acquired aircraft and grew its network. Nothing slowed the airline.  A 2015 story by The Hill highlighted this weird state of affairs.  Moreover, the Iranians knew about this.  So did other nations where the airline is flying.  Mahan Air was flying into Europe because there were no sanctions from the EU.

But the long arm of the US legal system persists in making claims.  In February the US government warned EU nations about Mahan Air’s flights.  The US has even blacklisted some people for supporting Mahan Air.  But the airline keeps flying and plans to add more EU destinations this year.

Last week the US Office of Foreign Assets Control published a license for “US persons” to trade in aircraft and parts with Iran.  Mahan Air is excluded from this of course. Mahan Air being sanctioned under part 561 (Iran Financial Sanctions Regulations) and part 594 (Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations).

So how does Mahan Air get away with its aircraft not being impounded? Why do EU nations ignore the US threat? Does the US Treasury really mean it when it says: “Regarding Mahan Air specifically, we are doing this by working with our partners to prevent Mahan Air from acquiring aircraft and aircraft parts and software, preventing the opening of new routes and working to get existing routes canceled.”  It is obvious that Mahan Air’s A340s need spares and maintenance .  Yet nothing is happening and Mahan Air continues to grow. Indeed, in January the Iranians threatened to sue the US about Mahan’s aircraft.

Things don’t quite add up.  US government credibility is implausible, and looks impotent.   Meanwhile the US Congress fumes.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

3 thoughts on “Mahan Air’s interesting history

  1. Aviation Doctor - Helping aviation companies to transform the present into a more profitable tomorrow says:

    There is no threat from Mahan Air today, the sanctions should be lifted, we do not see moves to put sanctions on US operators who flew special rendition flights to bring suspects to foreign countries to be tortured. Need to move on from the past and a new beginning, just like with Cuban sanctions, it is time to move forward and stop living in the past.

  2. Frankly most nations are ignoring what they consider to be US legal petulance on issues such as this – as they have been the same over Cuba for decades.

  3. Yes, communist dictators torchering & killing their own people while a radical theocracy does the same and screams “death to America and Israel” are not the problems, it’s actually US legal petulance to blame. As the “Great Satan” in the world, the US has perpetuated evil greed and left nothing but ruin in its wake. Take Germany and Japan as prime examples of nations trampled by the US and left to rot.

    Afghanistan and Iraq were given the same opportunities, but their medieval cultures won’t allow for anything but more death and despair. What country sits right between those two and shares their values, that’s right, the Islamic Republic of Iran. Last thing we need is more ME airlines exporting muslim extremism and the occasional terrorist to Western countries.

    Yesterday Paris, today Brussels, tomorrow???

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