Four A340s that ‘disappeared’ are captured by satellite image at Tehran Airport, Iran

Aircraft that once belonged to Turkish Airlines were brought into the country in illegal operation. Government of Iran confirmed having acquired the jets, but did not reveal destination

The four Airbus A340-300s that landed in “emergency” in Iran were revealed by satellite images parked at Tehran Airport on Monday.

The aircraft that were in storage in Johannesburg after being taken out of service by Turkish Airlines took off towards Uzbekistan on 24 December but never landed there. Instead, the four four-engine planes claimed problems diverting to the Iranian capital.

The illegal operation used Burkina Faso registrations while the flights were registered as belonging to Mahan Air, one of Iran’s main airlines.

After the repercussions, Iran’s civil aviation spokesman, Hassan Khoshko, confirmed to a local outlet that the A340s were purchased to be passed on to carriers in the country, but without indicating which ones will receive the old jets.

Iran has fleet of commercial planes from the past

Due to economic sanctions, air travel in Iran depends on a fleet of very old planes. Large carriers in the country such as Iran Air, Kish Air and Mahan Airlines operate aircraft that have practically stopped flying in the West, such as the Boeing 747-200, Fokker 100 and Airbus A340.

The newest commercial aircraft in use in the country are part of orders placed with Airbus and ATR that were authorized to be delivered to Iran Air between 2016 and 2018.

At that time, the sale of aircraft was approved by Barack Obama, former US president who had Joe Biden as vice president. However, in 2019, under the administration of Donald Trump, Washington again raised the economic barriers against Iran and remain so today.

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