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May 5, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

Sanctioned Iran airline flew first cases of coronavirus into Mideast

Mahan Air ignored safety and travel restrictions
May 5, 2020 | The Jerusalem Post

Sanctioned Iran airline flew first cases of coronavirus into Mideast

Mahan Air ignored safety and travel restrictions

The US sanctioned Iranian Mahan Air ignored travel and safety restrictions, enabling the first cases of the deadly coronavirus to spread into Iraq and Lebanon via its planes.

BBC Arabic reported on Tuesday that: “As coronavirus spread worldwide, strict travel restrictions were imposed. But they were ignored by some [email protected] can reveal that the first coronavirus cases in Iraq and Lebanon were flown into the country, on Mahan Air flights”

According to BBC, “An investigation by BBC News Arabic has analysed flight tracking data and open source footage which shows how Iran’s largest airline – Mahan Air – continued to fly while government flight bans were in place, and contributed to the spread of Covid-19 in the Middle East.”

The British network added that “Mahan Air ran hundreds of flights to and from Iran, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Syria between late January and the end of March. All these countries gave Mahan Air permission to land. And they did so while their own bans on routine flights from Iran were in place.”

BBC Arabic continued that “sources within the airline told the BBC that dozens of Mahan Air’s cabin crew were showing symptoms of Covid-19 and that when staff tried to raise concerns about the airline’s management of the crisis and provision of safety equipment, they were silenced.”

The Jerusalem Post reported in March that  a pilot for Mahan Air died from the coronavirus.

Iranian reports say that the pilot, Asghar Loran, serviced the route between the Islamic Republic of Iran and China—two of the leading hotspots for the outbreak of the deadly virus.

In 2018, the US ambassador to Germany and current acting director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell convinced Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to bar Mahan Air service to Germany.

“Here in Germany, I have asked the German government to support our efforts to stop an airline called Mahan Air from utilizing German airspace and airports,” Grenell had said during a meeting with a senior delegation from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, told the Post in 2018.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal

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Issues:

COVID-19 Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Sanctions Sanctions and Illicit Finance