Fatal Mistakes of Iranian Airlines Could Impact the Corona Virus Spread

Fatal Mistakes of Iranian Airlines Could Impact the Corona Virus Spread

Iran stopped all routine flights to and from China on January 31 and a number of other countries have banned flights from Iran in February and March, because it is the center of the corona virus outbreak in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, the airline continued to fly, making it criticized for endangering the health of passengers and crew. The flight crew was silenced by criminal threats when they expressed concern that they would spread the virus to those closest to them in addition to the country itself.

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Do not pay attention to health advice

By combining flight data and speaking with a number of sources in Lebanon and Iraq, BBC News Arabic succeeded in confirming the first number of cases of Covid-19 in countries using Mahan Air flights.

On February 19, an Iranian student became a passenger of Mahan Air with flight number W55062 from the Iranian capital, Tehran to the city of Najaf in Iraq. He was reported as Covid-19’s first official case on February 24.

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On February 20, a 41-year-old Lebanese woman returned after performing the Hajj in Qom. He flew from Tehran on Mahan Air flight W5112 to Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. He was reported to be Lebanon’s first confirmed case the following day.

Although there have been a number of cases which have caused anger in both countries, Mahan Air continues to operate.

Iranian Airlines and Middle East Corona Virus Spread Through Flights

The Iraqi government stopped flights to and from Iran on February 20. But the BBC said there were at least 15 flights after the ban was issued. They flew with permission from the Iraqi government. Most planes bring people who make Hajj from Iran to holy sites in Iraq.

In a statement to the BBC, the Iraqi government stated: This flight received permission from the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority. They said flights from Iraq to Iran would continue, but restrictions were imposed on visitors from Iran to enter Iraq.

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Operating when China and Iran are at the cusp of the plague

Mahan Air continues to fly between Iran and four major cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. (BBC)

BBC investigations reveal that when the Covid-19 outbreak was at its peak in China, Mahan Air was still flying between Iran and four major cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

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Iran certainly allows Mahan Air to violate its flight ban with China, which began to be implemented on January 31.

Mahan Air uploaded a number of photos on Chinese social media that showed six flights between the end of January and April 20 to bring aid, and identified four flights to evacuate Iranians in China. The last number of flights took place on February 5.

After analyzing flight data and cross-checking with the official Mahan Air statement. A BBC investigation revealed 157 flights took place after that date, despite Iran’s ban on flights with China.

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While other airlines do not fly their aircraft, flight data show from January 31 to April 20. Mahan Air is the only airline that continues to make direct flights between Iran and China.

Mahan Air also continues to play an important role in flying passengers from Iran to other countries at the peak of the corona virus case in the country.

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Mahan Air also operates 37 flights to Dubai, 19 flights to Turkey, and 18 other flights to other destinations including Malaysia and Thailand.

There were other airlines that flew in and out of Iran at that time. But Mahan Air is the only one operating on such a scale.

Mahan staff were silenced

The BBC found evidence that cabin crews were forced to keep quiet about the role of airlines in spreading the virus. Even though it was increasingly worrisome.

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In late February, more than 50 Mahan Air cabin crew members showed symptoms of a viral infection, according to a reliable source at Mahan Air. Cabin crews complained on social media that they were not given special equipment or personal protective clothing.

On February 27, staff at the airline spoke to the public for the first time. An article appeared in the Shargh Daily newspaper Mahan Air staff worried they were not given enough time for independent isolation after flying from China.

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On April 18, 1,300 Mahan Air staff members signed an open letter accusing the airline of handling the crisis. Published in Avia News, the letter also said the crew’s request for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) aviation industry, was repeatedly ignored. And that they are blamed for spreading the virus to their loved ones and to the country of Iran.

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The BBC gets a copy of the confidentiality agreement given to Mahan Air staff. The agreement threatens them with criminal suits if they speak publicly about their concerns.

Mahan Air and other countries which allowed the airline to land despite imposing a ban on flights from Iran, rejected requests for comment from the BBC.

Iranian Airlines and Middle East Corona Virus Spread Through Flights

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