Iran Smuggle two leased planes from Gambian Company out of Lithuania

A plane carrying Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian lands in Damascus International Airport, in Damascus, Syria March 23, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/FIRAS MAKDESI)

Macka Invest, a relatively obscure Gambian firm, is grappling with uncertainties following reports in Asian and Arab media outlets that the Islamic Republic of Iran has smuggled two of its leased Airbus A340s from Lithuania.

According to reports monitored by Alkamba Times from the Jerusalem Post, the little-known Gambian Company leased Airbus was due to fly to South Asia in February but reportedly ended up in Iran.

The paper says The aircraft’s transponders—which enable them to be identified on air traffic control radars—were turned off upon entry into Iranian airspace.

Local media reports in Lithuania report that Iran Iran smuggled two planes out of Lithuania that were due to fly to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. 

The aviation data site ch-aviation reported that one plane had landed at Mehrabad airport in Tehran and another at Konarak airport in Chabahar.

The incident was initially reported by vz. Lt, a Lithuanian business news website.

The Iranian aviation company, Mahan Air, now possesses the two aircraft in evasion of American sanctions on the nation about their nuclear program, reported vz. lt.

Aurelija Kuezada, director of Šiauliai Airport, said 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,” local media quoted Aurelija Kuezada, director of Šiauliai Airport as saying.

In December 2022, Iran International reported that four commercial Airbus A340 planes that had taken off from Johannesburg en route to Uzbekistan had shut off their transponders and reportedly landed in Iran. In 2022, the Tehran Times said Iran needed at least 550 aircraft.

According to the Washington Institute, economic sanctions prevent Iran from purchasing new planes. The cost of an Airbus A340 is over $150 million.


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