Germany Bans Iranian Airline Mahan

Monday, 21 January, 2019 - 09:00
Asharq Al-Awsat

Germany banned Iranian airline Mahan Air from its airports, a senior government source said Monday, amid an escalation of sanctions adopted by the European Union against Iran over attacks on opponents in the bloc.

In remarks to Reuters, the source gave both safety concerns and the suspicion that the airline was being used for military purposes as reasons.

The confirmation came after Munich-based daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the Federal Aviation Office (LBA) will suspend Mahan’s operating license.

A spokesman for the foreign ministry in Berlin told the paper it "does not inform about internal political decision-making processes".

Mahan, Iran's second-largest carrier after Iran Air, flies four services a week between Tehran and the German cities Duesseldorf and Munich.

The EU earlier this month targeted sanctions at Iran's security services and two of their leaders, accused of involvement in a series of murders and planned attacks against Tehran critics in the Netherlands, Denmark and France.

Brussels' measures included freezing funds and financial assets belonging to Iran's intelligence ministry and individual officials, but did not target any companies.

By contrast Mahan Air was blacklisted by the US in 2011, as Washington said the carrier was providing technical and material support to an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards known as the Quds Force.

The US treasury has threatened sanctions against countries and companies offering the airline's 31 aircraft landing rights or services such as on-board dining.

German firms have come under especially intense pressure from American ambassador Richard Grenell, a close ally of President Donald Trump, over sanctions against Iran.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Telekom, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and industrial group Siemens have all said they will stop their operations in the country.

Last week German authorities said they had arrested a German-Afghan military adviser on suspicion of spying for Iran.

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