June 28, 2013 Mahan Air v. US Sanctions winner Lufthansa.
Okay, we all know about the US sanctions on doing business in Iran. The US Government made a rule that stated that no airplanes could be sold to Iran or an Iranian company if that aircraft contains any parts made in the US. Well that is basically all commercial aircraft except Russian aircraft. When Iranian aircraft buyers want Airbus or Boeing products they have to get more creative to get around US sanctions. Well not that creative I guess, the airlines use straw buyers.
The way it works is this. The Iranian carrier goes out and finds a straw carrier to purchase the western aircraft. Generally, airlines use African or Eastern European carriers. The African carrier then goes to the western carrier or manufacturer to purchase the aircraft. The African carrier then turns around and sells them to the Iranian Airline. Since the straw buyer doesn’t touch the US, they are de facto exempt from US sanctions.
Here Mahan Air purchased two A340-300’s from Lufthansa using a defunct Kyrgyzstan airline and a Thai startup Neither one of these airlines had any need for the A340’s but Lufthansa sold them anyways. This is really nothing more than a scam used to circumvent sanctions. Mahan used it previously to acquire 3 United Airlines 747-400’s through an Armenian airline. Those 747-400’s haven’t left Iran recently due to some governments showing a willingness to seize them in light of the sanctions.
Either way the real winner here is probably Lufthansa, who may have gotten a premium for the A340’s that they were looking to get rid of.
Here is a cabin picture of the “new” Mahan Air A340