Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Potential U.S. showdown with recently acquired Mahan Air aircraft

Above: freshly painted in Mahan Air livery, A340-642 reg. EP-MMR (cn 416)

A potential U.S. showdown with Mahan Air over its recent Iraqi-provided Airbus aircraft may be taking shape. According to a Reuters newswire dated 01JUN15:
An Iranian airline that acquired nine passenger jets in defiance of U.S. sanctions will begin using them on international routes this week, the Fars news agency reported on Monday.
Mahan Air, which is blacklisted by Washington, acquired eight second-hand Airbus A340s and one Airbus A321 in early May. The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on two firms based in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates on suspicion of helping the purchase.
The A340s will start flying from Tehran to Dubai and Istanbul within two days, and will later be used for long-haul journeys, Fars reported.
The U.S. Treasury department last month said Mahan Air had a "blockable interest" in the planes, meaning they could be subject to an asset freeze, raising the possibility that U.S. officials may attempt to have them seized at airports outside Iran.
The United States, which has imposed the most stringent sanctions on Iran, a country that is also under European and some U.N. measures over its nuclear activities, bans the sale of aircraft and parts to the Islamic Republic.
COMMENTARY: U.S.-directed sanctioning efforts against Mahan Air are a result of the airline's logistical activities connected to IRGC-QF support of Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanese Hezbollah, as well as MODAFL and IAIO.

Potential Airbus aircraft ferried to Iran on 08MAY15 and observed  freshly painted in Mahan Air livery through open-source amateur photography include the following known new registrations and corresponding construction numbers of A346 aircraft:

391 EP-MMH
416 EP-MMR
449 EP-MMI
---   EP-MMQ

Known additional construction numbers and corresponding new registrations of A346 and A343 aircraft include:

371 -------
376 -------
383 EP-MMG
615 -------
164 EP-MMD

Were Mahan Air to undertake international flights with these newly acquired Iraqi-provided Airbus aircraft and were the United States to seize the aircraft, ramifications would likely impact current negotiations over the Iranian nuclear power program. The Iranian side frames any new sanctioning efforts by the United States as "contrary to the spirit" of the nuclear negotiation process. That the Iranian negotiators would be undermined by an aircraft impoundment may also come into play, were the IRGC to be calculating to such an end, for it's understood IRGC views potential disclosures over its ballistic missile program and military industrial complex as detrimental to Iranian national defense. Additionally, a seizure might provide this political interest in Iran with the added boost of popular opinion, in depicting the Iranian people deprived of safer air travel by a hostile power.

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