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Iran smuggles aircraft heading to Sri Lanka and the Philippines

By: Staff Writer

June 25, Colombo (LNW): Iran smuggled two aircraft that were flying out of Lithuania and heading to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

According to the Jerusalem Post, two Airbus A340s, leased by the Gambian company Macka Invest, were due to fly to South Asia in February.

As per the latest reports, these aircraft ended up in Iran instead of reaching their final destinations, causing major concern among the Lithuanian authorities.

Interestingly, the aircraft’s transponders—which enable them to be identified on air traffic control radars—were turned off the moment it entered the Iranian airspace.

Multiple Lithuanian news outlets suggested that one plane landed at the Mehrabad airport in Tehran and another at Konarak airport in Chabahar. The incident first came to light after a Lithuanian business news website, vz.lt published the shocking report.

With this, the Iranian aviation company, Mahan Air, now possesses the two aircraft as it continues to navigate through American sanctions.

After the report came to light, Aurelija Kuezada, director of Šiauliai Airport revealed that a third plane was prevented from taking off because they ” assume[d] that it could have landed in Iran as well.”

“Nothing could have prevented that,” Kuezada continued, “So, we just didn’t let it go when we found out that the first plane had landed in Iran.” the Lithuanian official added.

However, this is not the first time and unwantedly came under Iran’s possession. In December 2022, Iran International reported that four commercial Airbus A340 planes took off from Johannesburg and landed near Iran.

The places were en route Uzbekistan had shut off their transponders while it was near the Iranian airspace. In the same year, The Tehran Times reported that Iran is in need of at least 550 aircraft.

Why Iran is facing a paucity of aircraft, is because Economic sanctions have prevented the Middle Eastern nation from purchasing new planes. It is pertinent to note that the cost of Airbus A340 is over $150 million.

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