x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

No fuel ban on Iranian jets

Iranian passenger jets will not be prevented from refuelling at UAE airports, officials said yesterday.

DUBAI // Iranian passenger jets will not be prevented from refuelling at UAE airports, officials made clear yesterday. Iranian news agencies reported yesterday that the UAE, along with Britain, Germany and Kuwait, had imposed the refuelling restrictions as part of additional US sanctions recently imposed on Tehran.

The secretary of the Iranian Airlines Union, Mehdi Aliyari, was quoted by the state news agency ISNA as saying: "Since last week, after the passing of the unilateral law by America and the sanctions against Iran, airports in England, Germany, the UAE have refused to give fuel to Iranian planes." IRNA, another state media outlet, said in a separate report that Kuwait had introduced similar restrictions.

However, the state news agency WAM reported yesterday that the Islamic Republic's jetliners could still replenish their fuel stores at airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A UAE source familiar with the issue also said: "Commercial aircraft operating to and from the UAE airports have alternative sources to refuel in the UAE." The confusion, the source suggested, could have resulted from a jet-fuel supply company with a global presence, including in the UAE, that had refused to supply Iranian aircraft.

Although declining to identify the company, the source said that it "has refused refuelling rights to Iranian commercial aircraft at several points globally". The claims come a week after the US president, Barack Obama, signed into law unilateral sanctions that were designed to exert more pressure on Tehran than did the most recent round of UN sanctions. In retaliation for the Islamic Republic's alleged ambitions to build nuclear weapons, the American sanctions intend to cripple Iran's access to international finance and restrict its access to jet fuel and petrol.

In addition to the UAE, airline industry officials in other countries also said they were unaware of orders to deny Iranian aircraft the right to refuel on their territories. "At present HMG [Her Majesty's Government] is not aware of any occasions when fuel has been refused in the UK," David Lawrie, a public relations official at the United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office, said yesterday in a statement. An Iran Air jet refuelled at Frankfurt Airport yesterday and departed for Mashhad, a city in the northeast of Iran, said a spokesperson for Fraport, the airport's operator.

Although officials at Kuwait International Airport could not be reached for comment, a source at a refuelling company at the facility said: "I didn't hear anything about this. As far as I know, they are refueling for everybody, because it is a business." Abu Dhabi Airports Company, which operates airports in the emirate, said in a statement that it was not "aware of any banning imposed on Iranian flights coming for refuelling".

Iranian carriers were operating normally, the statement read, and aircraft from the Islamic Republic "are offered services when needed at our airport, including refuelling". Officials at Dubai International Airport declined to comment. The UN has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Iran, the latest of which came into effect last month. US and its European allies say the most recent penalties introduced by the world body were weakened after compromises with veto-bearing members Russia and China.