Saudi Arabia bans Iran's Mahan Air over safety

A Shi'ite Muslim man holds a picture of cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a protest against the execution of Nimr.
A Shi'ite Muslim man holds a picture of cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a protest against the execution of Nimr. PHOTO: REUTERS

RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi Arabia's aviation authority said on Monday (April 4) it had banned Iran's Mahan Air from using its airports and air space over safety concerns.

The General Authority for Civil Aviation said it decided to "stop completely permits granted to Iran's Mahan Air, ban it from landing in the kingdom's airports or passing through its air space", according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The authority cited "violations of national regulations related to safety of international carriers", without giving any details.

Saudi Arabia severed all air links with Iran in January after the two countries cut diplomatic ties following Riyadh's execution of prominent Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

In Iran, civil aviation official Ebrahim Moradi said the Saudi ban would have no impact because the country's planes had already halted flights into the kingdom's air space.

"Since the break in relations, Iranian airlines have had no plans for flights to Saudi Arabia and have not used Saudi airspace," he told state news agency Irna.

"Iranian companies operate no direct flights to Africa and therefore do no use Saudi airspace," said Mr Moradi. "Saudi Arabia's decision has no effect on the activities of Iranian companies."