Mysterious U.S. plane seen in Iranian airport

No party has been able to explain to explain the circumstances of the jet’s presence at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport. (Photo courtesy of Taha Ashoori - Iranian Spotters)

A U.S. corporate jet was seen parked in an airport in the Iranian capital on Thursday, in what was possibly the first recorded time that a U.S. civil aircraft has landed in the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

But so far, no party has been able to explain the circumstances of the plane, which was seen on the tarmac at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport bearing an American flag, the New York Times reported.

Federal aviation records have linked the jet to the Bank of Utah, which has 13 branches and is headquartered in the small city of Ogden.

One of the bank’s executives, Brett King, said “we have no idea why that plane was at that airport,” adding that the lender acted as a trustee for investors who have a financial stake in the plane, the newspaper reported.

The bank was currently investigating, he added.

‘VIP’ jet

The Federal Aviation Administration said it did not know who was operating it or who its investors were, while airport officials said only that the aircraft was “VIP.”

Due to strict U.S. sanctions on Iran’s economy due to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, any U.S. aircraft would normally require approval from authorities to travel to the country without violating trade rules.

Iranian officials would not comment on the plane’s prescence, while a spokesman for Iran’s United Nations mission said “we don’t have any information in this regard.”

Former U.S. officials speaking to the daily said that a U.S.-flagged plane with such a prominent prescence would likely mean that it had been approved as part of a legitimate business trip, rather than being part of a secret diplomatic mission.

U.S. federal aviation regulations make identifying the plane’s operator very difficult, the newspaper added, although a review of the Bank of Utah database shows that the lender is listed as a trustee for 1,169 aircraft – significantly more than most American banks.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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