Iran’s second-largest carrier, Mahan Air, is flying commercial routes to more than a dozen European and Asian countries in spite of U.S. terror-related sanctions.
Backed by the country’s notorious Revolutionary Guard, the airline is sanctioned by the U.S. for providing “transportation, funds transfers and personnel travel services” to the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Forces, flying them and weapons to Syria to train Hezbollah militants, Syrian army troops and others.
Many countries honoured the U.S. terror sanctions and blocked Mahan Air. But weeks before the nuclear deal was signed in July 2015, Mahan announced it was launching a route to Munich — its second German destination. A wave of new routes followed to more than a dozen countries, including France, Russia, Thailand and Denmark.
A look at the countries that have granted landing rights to Mahan Air commercial flights or are home to companies affiliated with the airline.
In May 2014, Mahan Air announced a new, twice-weekly service to the Armenian capital, Yerevan. That service commenced a month later.
Mahan Air launched in June 2014 a flight from Shanghai, China, to Athens, with a stopover in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport.
Mahan said in September 2014 that it has been “serving” Dusseldorf “for more than a decade” and announced Munich as its second German destination. The “flight will be operated twice weekly on Sundays and Wednesdays” and began in March 2015.
On its website, it also lists the Air Cargo Agency GmbH in Dusseldorf as one of its third-party affiliates.
Mahan announced in late 2014 that it was expanding its network to Beijing, its third destination in China. Mahan has been flying to Shanghai and Guangzhou since 2011.
A route between Tehran and the Thai capital, Bangkok, was launched in October 2016. Iran has been courting Thai tourists, and Mahan Air announced an agreement this year for closer tourism ties with Thailand.
My Aviation Co. Ltd in Bangkok is among the third party companies listed on Mahan’s website.
Mahan launched its flights to Milan in June 2015, announcing twice-weekly service, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Copenhagen was one of two European Union destinations added in June 2016. A month later it celebrated its Copenhagen route with a press release that highlighted “Chinese staff helping our many Chinese passengers in Copenhagen Airport.”
A June 19 press release announced Mahan’s “10th destination in Europe” — Paris. The airline said it would fly from Tehran to Charles de Gaulle Airport on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays.
Mahan announced a new route to Moscow, its second in Russia, in January 2016 and teased to expanding service with “some direct flights to several European and Asian countries that will be launched gradually in the late spring and summer.”
The airline announced a route to its first Russian destination, St. Petersburg, in 2013.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Mahan has long flown to the Emirate of Dubai. On its website the airline lists the Gate Wick Freight & Cargo Company as a third-party affiliate.
In 2012, Mahan announced a flight to the northern city of Irbil and the Shiite holy city of Najaf.
The Treasury Department sanctioned Al-Naser Airlines, an Iraq-based company that, in 2015, transferred at least eight Airbus A340 and one Airbus A320 aircraft to Mahan. The Treasury designation said that Al-Naser procured “the Airbus aircraft from unwitting European vendors, for which Mahan Air paid tens of millions of dollars each.”
In March 2016, Kyiv was added to Mahan’s list of European routes.
The Treasury Department in 2013 sanctioned Ukraine-based Ukrainian-Mediterranean Airlines (Um Air) and Bukovyna Airlines for “leasing and selling aircraft to Mahan Air” as it attempts “to circumvent sanctions and support Iran’s worldwide illicit activities.”
Mahan has long flown to the Turkish cities of Ankara and Istanbul.
In December, a Mahan flight failed to stop on a runway at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul due to a brake malfunction, a press release said. The Airbus 310 hit a vacant bus as well as the guard rail and stopped. There were no injuries.
AIRMARK Airline Marketing & Services in Istanbul is listed as a third-party company on Mahan’s website.
It also lists sales offices in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
Mahan has long flown to New Delhi and, this week, Mahan plans to launch a second daily flight to the Indian city.
Mahan has flown to the Afghan capital, Kabul, since 2002.
In 2012, Mahan announced nonstop service to Kuala Lumpur.
The airline also lists Icargo Sdn Bhd in Kuala Lumpur as a third-party affiliate.