Iran Files Complaint Against International Airports for Refusing to Refuel Its Planes

Iran has filed a formal complaint with the Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Fang Liu against international airports for refusing to refuel its passenger and cargo aircraft, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on June 1, citing Morteza Dehghan, the vice president for Aeronautical and International Affairs of the Iran Civil Aviation Organization (CAO.IRI).

“U.S. sanctions on Iranian airlines are against international law,” Mr. Dehghan said. “They violate the so-called humanitarian values of America and its allies. These measures distress Iranian people and disrupt their relationship with the international community. CAO.IRI has been working with other countries to find a workable solution to this problem. We hope to resolve this issue soon.”

A week earlier, Iran Air flight 721 bound for Frankfurt was grounded at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport for eight hours. It had to wait another four hours at Ankara Airport for refueling. Passengers had to remain on the plane while airline officials and airport authorities negotiated fuel purchase for the flight.

CAO.IRI also filed a formal complaint with the ICAO last year, demanding an end to unilateral U.S. sanctions against the Iranian civil aviation industry. Iran urged the ICAO member countries to honor the terms of the organization’s charter regarding greater cooperation on international air transport. Iranian aircraft cannot refuel at many international airports, including some in the Arab state of the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile, Islamic Republic officials remain defiant in the face of increasing political and economic pressures by the U.S. They claim that Iran has successfully circumvented the sanctions.

“Fortunately, the situation has improved considerably. Iranian aircraft can refuel at a few international airports,” Majlis (Iranian Parliament) news website (ICANA) reported on May 14, citing Seyyed Hassan Alavi, deputy chairman of Majlis Committee for Infrastructure and Development.

Mr. Alavi said: “Thankfully, Bulgaria and Hungary have agreed to allow Iranian planes to refuel at their international airports. Our negotiations with Turkey will undoubtedly be as fruitful.”

Islamic Republic officials continue to lambast the U.S. for imposing severe sanctions on the country’s civil aviation industry.

France banned flights in and out of the country by Mahan Air, accusing it of transporting military equipment and personnel to Syria, Reuters news agency reported on March 25. The U.S. had already imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011 for transporting arms and members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to various countries in the Middle East.

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President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet appointed Touraj Dehghani Zanganeh, the new director of Iran Air on May 5. Mr. Zanganeh is the former CEO of Meraj Airline which, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), is among a network of Iranian airlines that “transported weapons, fighters, and money to [Iran’s] proxies, including Hezbollah.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]