• Germany's news in English

Iranian airline buys Merkel’s old plane

The Local · 21 Nov 2011, 15:24

Published: 21 Nov 2011 15:24 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The Airbus 310 was delivered to Tehran from Kyiv, Ukraine on November 18, having been sold on by a group of eastern European investors. The plane was part of Germany’s “Air Force One” fleet for 20 years, and was used by various chancellors, foreign ministers and cabinet ministers throughout that time.

The plane, built in 1989 and once named “Theodor Heuss” after the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany, was originally part of the fleet of East German airline Interflug, and was last used by the German government in June.

After its retirement from government service, the plane was handed over to the collection company for federal ownership Vebeg. The company made a catalogue profile of the Theodor Heuss, which showed pictures of the plane with the national colours still painted on its flanks.

When Vebeg sold the plane to a group of eastern European investors for €3,125,000, the buyers had apparently not yet decided on the plane’s end use. A government spokesman told news magazine Der Spiegel that the plane was painted in neutral colours by the time of its sale.

The investors have now quietly sold the plane on the Mahan Air, leading many industry insiders to speculate that they were a front for the Iranians all along. Several Lufthansa Airbus planes have been sold to Iran via Kyiv in the past, bypassing trade sanctions.

Story continues below…

Mahan Air’s US assets were frozen earlier this year after the US government accused the airline of helping Iran plan an attack on the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington. The US accused the airline of secretly transporting weapons and members of the Iranian Republican Guard.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

17:56 November 21, 2011 by raandy
I wonder if the plane had a hot tub onboard. :-)
21:10 November 21, 2011 by jimgoose
It's a civilian plane, what is the problem? Does the west expect the 70+ million people in Iran to live in the stone age just because of the mistakes of its non-democratic leadership? Why punish ordinary Iranians who want to be closer to the west by forcing sanctions against civilian industry? Isolate the regime, empower the people - the rest will be history.

There have been a disproportionate amount of air disasters in Iran since 1979 that have cost hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives, part of this is results from Western sanctions against Iran's air industry. Even as they reverse engineer parts to keep their fleets flying it doesn't always work and results in tragic results, gaining the west no sympathy and giving the regime a "see, i told you so" position.
17:04 November 22, 2011 by Frenemy
You can't empower the people unless the regime permits it (which they won't). If the regime suffers a little, the people will suffer a lot.

As for air disasters, it might help if the US Navy didn't shoot down their civilian aircraft (Iran Air Flight 655)... just a thought.
Today's headlines
German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder to mediate in supermarket row
Gerhard Schröder. Photo: DPA

Can Gerhard Schröder bring an end to the Kaiser's Tengelmann saga?

Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd