Iran’s Mahan Air has revived a Boeing 747-400 that was placed into storage almost 10 years ago. EP-MNB had arrived with the carrier in 2009 but just a year later it was mothballed at Tehran Imam Khomeini airport for the foreseeable. However, it is now back in service and regularly running routes to domestic destinations within Iran.
Bringing the old girl back
According to CH-Aviation, the 747-400, registered EP-MNB, was brought back into service on the 27th August 2019. On that day, it performed a test flight around the airport in Tehran. Prior to this, it had been stored at the airport since 2010.
Since being brought back online, Mahan Air has not wasted any time in putting the quadjet to work. On September 4th it took its first scheduled domestic flight, operating from Tehran Mehrabad to Mashhad. Since then, it has been to Baghdad and Kish frequently.
According to Flight Radar 24’s scheduling information, the aircraft seems to now be a regular fixture on services most days, mainly to Kish Island and Mashhad from Tehran.
Planespotters notes that EP-MNB is a 30.2 year old Boeing 747-400. It was originally delivered to United Airlines in August 1989, where it stayed until October 2006 when Armenia’s Blue Sky took it over. It arrived with Mahan Airlines in February 2009 but was withdrawn from use in 2010.
The aircraft is powered by four Pratt & Witney PW4056 engines and is laid out in a three class configuration. It seats 14 in first, 73 in business and 260 in economy.
According to Planespotters, Mahan Air operates a fleet of 38 aircraft, including one 747-300, 12 A340s and a number of narrowbody Airbus jets.
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Mahan Air striving for business
Iran’s Mahan Air has been struggling to find routes to operate after being banned by one country after another. Sanctions imposed by Washington since 2011, due to allegations of the carrier providing technical and material support to an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards known as the Quds Force put European aviation authorities under pressure to ban its operations.
In January this year, Germany banned the airline, citing security concerns as a factor in its decision. Weeks later, France followed suit, leading to the cancellation of a four times a week service between Tehran and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
However, despite encouragement from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the contrary, MEHR News reports that Italy is reluctant to ban the airline. Formal decisions on the Italian response to pressure from the US will be announced in the coming days.
Despite this, Mahan Air is still attempting to expand in some areas. This summer, the carrier relaunched flights to Serbia, a route that had been suspended in 2018 amid political tensions. However, with the Serbian government reintroducing visa requirements for Iranian nationals, it remains to be seen if the route is here to stay.
While the bulk of Mahan Air’s current routes are domestic services around Iran, it does also still fly internationally. This includes destinations in Russia, India, China and South East Asia, as well as numerous servies across the Middle East.