Saudi Ban on Mahan Air Downplayed

Saudi Ban on Mahan Air Downplayed Saudi Ban on Mahan Air Downplayed

Iranian aviation officials did not find Saudi Arabia’s ban on Iran’s Mahan Air troublesome.

Maqsoud As’adi Samani, secretary of the Airlines Association, said no Iranian airline currently operates flights to Saudi Arabia.

“It is merely meant to affect the [political] climate and has nothing to do with reality,” he said.

According to the Saudi media on Monday, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation banned Mahan Air from using its airspace or land at its airports due to alleged violations of safety rules.

Downplaying the decision, As’adi said, “All Iranian airlines have halted their relations with Saudi Arabia due to severed diplomatic ties between the two countries since a couple of months ago,” as quoted by the Fararu news website on Tuesday.

Tasnim News Agency quoted Ebrahim Moradi, director of air traffic control of Iran Airports Company, as saying that Iran had redirected its flights to some African countries, which needed to use Saudi Arabian airspace.

“Saudi Arabia is just a route to some African countries, but Iranian airlines have no scheduled direct flights to these destinations. And for special air trips like political authorities’ flights, substitute routes will be taken,” he explained.

Moradi stressed that no flight has been made between Iran and Saudi Arabia after the cancellation of hajj and umrah pilgrimages in the wake of an escalation of disputes between Tehran and Riyadh.  

Tension between the two regional powers remains high after Saudis executed the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in January. The measure led to attacks by Iranian protesters on the Arab kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad, which prompted Saudi Arabia to cut diplomatic relations with Iran.