Press TV – The Spanish government has revoked the landing rights of Iran’s Mahan Air, apparently under US pressure which has intensified amid the coronavirus.
La Vanguardia newspaper cited sources in the Spanish civil aviation authority DGAC as saying that Mahan Air has been forced to terminate its service to Barcelona from March 23.
Flights between Barcelona and Tehran had run twice weekly, but Mahan Air had to quit route the when Spain suddenly cancelled the airline’s license.
The sources made it clear that the suspension was not linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Swiss-based ch-aviation, which collects and publishes information about the airline business, suggested that the revocation followed a US campaign to pressure Iran.
The US government has largely gone out on its own to intensify sanctions on Iran despite opposition by European and other world countries, but the EU has continued to submit to American coercion at the same time.
In revoking the flights, Spain has just followed a wider trend in Europe where Germany, France, and Italy have all asked Iranian carriers to desist from flying into their airports.
Last month, Germany ordered IranAir to suspend its flights to the country. “The new Infection Protection Act now makes it possible: flights from Iran to Germany are prohibited with immediate effect,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn tweeted in early April.
Iran’s flag carrier used airports in Cologne, Bonn, Frankfurt and Hamburg for passenger and cargo flights.
Even as the German government linked its decision to the coronavirus crisis, it had revoked the license of Mahan Air in January 2019 after heavy US pressure. France banned the airline in March 20190, accusing it of transporting military equipment and personnel to Syria and other Middle East war zones.
Italy followed their lead in mid-December last year following a meeting between its Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Mahan Air is a privately operated airline, but the US accuses it of providing financial and other support to Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) which is a national force.
The US government imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011. The airline, established in 1992 as Iran’s first private airline, has the country’s largest fleet of aircraft and has flights to many countries around the world.
European countries have been under sustained US pressure to reimpose sanctions on Iran since President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of an international nuclear deal reached with Tehran under his predecessor Barack Obama.
While the other signatories to the deal – Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China – have tried to keep it alive and opposed new US sanctions on Iran in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, they have not stopped succumbing to American pressure.
Last week, Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York dismissed the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) which the Europeans belatedly announced with much fanfare to have made operational in coordination with the US to barter medicine and food with Iran.
The mission said the United States has forced SHTA to pursue a very tight and tough procedure, making it practically very difficult for companies to trade with Iran.
“Additionally, almost impossible or cumbersome nature of transferring Iran’s reserves blocked outside the country to the designated Swiss bank, not only does not allow the SHTA to function properly now but may actually render it redundant in a matter of few months,” it said.
According to the mission, several companies that supply the medical equipment required to fight the coronavirus have recently stopped shipping to Iran because the current US sanctions regime makes the shipping of such items to Iran almost impossible.
Washington has imposed new sanctions in the midst of the coronavirus, targeting trade with Iran, even as President Trump has claimed that the US was ready to help with the outbreak if Tehran asked for it.
The Islamic Republic has rejected the offer as hypocritical while the US is refusing to lift the sanctions and even intensifying them. Officials have said Washington’s demand that Tehran make a direct plea for the removal of sanctions shows the United States seeks “nothing short of surrender”.
Iran’s UN mission said last week the only message the US is sending with intensifying its sanctions amid the coronavirus is that companies must avoid doing any business with Iran, even if their work is humanitarian in nature.