Two A340s smuggled out of Lithuania and into Iran

Two Airbus A340 aircraft belonging to Gambian leasing company Macka Invest were, reportedly, smuggled out of Lithuania and into Iran. 

According to reports that appeared on Lithuanian media, the two aircraft had been parked at Šiauliai airport (SQQ) in Lithuania. They managed to sneak away in February 2024 after declaring that they were departing for Sri Lanka and the Philippines. 

After reaching Iranian airspace the two aircraft switched their transponders off and landed at two separate airports in the Middle Eastern country: Tehran’s Mehrabad (THR) and Chabahar Konarak Airport (ZBR). 

The two A340s are believed to be currently in service with Iranian airline Mahan Air, which is under US sanctions.  

A third A340 belonging to the same Gambian company was prevented from leaving Lithuania upon concerns that it may follow the same path as the other two and it remains at Šiauliai. 

This is not the first time that A340 aircraft are smuggled into Iran in contravention of international sanctions.

In 2022, four A340s registered in Burkina Faso ended up in Iran after having filed false flight plans that would have, supposedly, taken them from South Africa to Uzbekistan. Just as in the more recently reported case, in that occasion all four aircraft also disappeared briefly after reaching Iranian airspace, only to be spotted shortly after at Tehran’s Mehrabad international airport. 

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