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Iran deplores 'unjustifiable' German banning of Mahan Air

AFP-JIJI

Iran’s foreign ministry on Tuesday deplored Germany’s decision to ban Iranian airline Mahan air from its airports, describing the move as “hasty and unjustifiable.

“The rescinding of Mahan Air’s flight permits to Germany is a hasty, unjustifiable act,” the ministry said in a statement.

“This action is in conflict with the spirit governing the long-standing relations between the Iranian and German nations,” and “contrary to the interests of bilateral relations, it said.

Iran said it hopes Germany will reconsider its decision.

Germany said on Monday it had banned Mahan Air from its airports.

Germany foreign ministry spokesman Christofer Burger told reporters in Berlin the move was necessary to protect Germany’s “foreign and security policy interests.

A spokeswoman at Germany’s transport ministry said Iran had been informed that the ban would take effect from Monday and involve Mahan Air flights from and to Germany.

Mahan Air, Iran’s second-largest carrier after Iran Air, flies four services a week between Tehran and the German cities of Dusseldorf and Munich.

The ban caused confusion and chaos for Mahan Air passengers as the airline rushed to secure replacement flights for them.

“I’ve been in the aviation industry for decades, and I’ve never seen such a thing,” a Mahan Air employee from the company’s Dusseldorf office told AFP in Tehran on Tuesday.

“It borders on cruelty for all of these passengers,” he said on condition of anonymity, adding that staff had been fielding calls from distraught passengers all day long.

Mahan Air was blacklisted by the U.S. in 2011, as Washington said the carrier was providing technical and material support to an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards known as the Quds Force.

Iran’s aging air fleet has had a string of crashes in recent years mostly due to tough decades-long U.S. sanctions hindering the purchase of new aircraft and critical spare parts for its civilian fleet.

Hopes for a change in the situation were dashed last May when Washington pulled out of a landmark 2015 deal over Iran’s nuclear program, reimposing sanctions that had been lifted as part of the multilateral accord.