EU bans most Iran Air jets
Move based on safety concerns, not UN sanctions.
July 7, 2010 2:15 by Samuel Potter
The EU on Tuesday banned most of Iran Air’s jets from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, emphasizing that the move was not related to UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
The 27-nation bloc also relaxed restrictions on two airlines from Indonesia and put a Suriname airline on its blacklist of carriers the EU believes do not meet international safety standards.
The list of 278 airlines — mostly small carriers from Africa and Asia — was established in 2006 and is updated regularly.
Iran Air’s Boeing 727s and 747s, along with its Airbus 320s, have been placed on the EU blacklist following a safety audit, Transport Commission spokeswoman Helen Kearns said.
But Kearns denied that the move, which affects two-thirds of Iran Air’s fleet, had anything to do with international sanctions. “We deal purely with safety requirements,” she said. “Our controls focus entirely on safety, nothing else.”
Iran Air has had trouble properly maintaining its aging Boeing 747 and 727 jets purchased in the 1970s because of a 30-year-old US ban on spare parts.
Iran Air flies to about 60 destinations, mainly in Asia and Europe.
New sanctions on Iran, meanwhile, are expected to complicate life further for Iranian businesses based in the United Arab Emirates, home to the regional trade hub Dubai, and may force some to close down, one of their representatives said.
Morteza Masoumzadeh, vice president of the local Iranian Business Council, also told Reuters he believed the UAE authorities would impose more restrictions after the latest wave of international punitive measures against Iran.
In Tehran, the head of the Iran-Emirates Chamber of Commerce said the UAE had taken steps beyond last month’s United Nations resolution and predicted bilateral trade would fall.
Thousands of Iranian companies and businessmen operate in Dubai, and many of them are involved in the multibillion-dollar re-export trade with Iran across the Gulf.
But the UAE has signaled a tightening of its role as a trading and financial lifeline for Iran after the UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on June 9 on the major oil producer over its disputed nuclear program.
“I predict a further decline in Iranian businesses in the UAE and other countries doing direct trade with Iran, like Turkey, Malaysia etc,” said Masoumzadeh.