The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned a United Arab Emirate-based firm and individual for acting as proxies for Mahan Air (W5, Tehran Mehrabad). The US regards the Iranian airline as a conduit for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an entity Washington has previously accused of being a terrorist organisation.

In a statement issued this week, OFAC said it had designated UAE-based Parthia Cargo and Delta Parts Supply FZC and its owner, Iranian national Amin Mahdavi, for their material support of Mahan Air.

It claimed that Dubai-based Parthia Cargo serves as a freight forwarding agent for Mahan Air and has regularly forwarded consignments of aircraft parts, including US-origin parts, from the UAE directly to Mahan Air in Tehran, as well as to Mahan Air front companies in Istanbul. Parts have typically been shipped aboard regularly scheduled Mahan Air flights between Dubai Int'l and Tehran Imam Khomeini, it claimed adding that several other Iranian airlines and aviation firms had also relied on Parthia Cargo for their US-origin aircraft parts requirements.

Concurrent with OFAC’s designations, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has filed criminal charges against Parthia Cargo and Amin Mahdavi related to the alleged unlicensed re-export of US-export-controlled aircraft parts to Iran in violation of US sanctions.

Despite the threat of US sanctions, Mahan Air has been able to procure not only parts, but also aircraft on the open market. Most recently, it acquired A310-300 msn 574 from Uzbekistan Airways (HY, Tashkent Islam Karimov) using defunct carrier Kyrgyz Trans Avia (6K, Bishkek) as a proxy for the deal. The 30-year-old jet is being used for parts for Mahan Air's existing A310 fleet.