The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Sept. 14 announced new sanctions targeting a Thai aviation firm accused of working with Iran’s Mahan Air, an airline previously designated for its role in ferrying fighters and weapons into Syria.

“Treasury is cutting off yet another service provider acting on behalf of Mahan Air, a sanctioned airline that transports soldiers and supplies to Assad and fuels terrorist activities across the region,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.  

“This Thailand-based company has disregarded numerous US warnings, issued publicly and delivered bilaterally to the Thai government, to sever ties with Mahan Air. This action should serve as a warning that the US is intent on ensuring that the aviation industry ceases providing services to, and profiting from, this terrorist-affiliated airline.”

The firm, Bangkok-based My Aviation Company Ltd., is accused of acting as a Mahan Air General Services Agent (GSA) in Thailand. The company is alleged to have provided cargo services to Mahan Air, and is believed to have worked with local freight forwarding entities to ship cargo aboard regularly scheduled Mahan Air flights to Tehran.

GSAs are third-party entities that provide services to an airline under the airline’s own brand, including sales and marketing, freight handling and airport warehouse and ramp supervision.

“Everywhere it goes, Mahan relies on an array of service providers. Without them, no commercial airline can operate effectively,” said Emanuele Ottolenghi, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Major service providers will finally have to decide whether the profits generated by transacting with Mahan are worth the risk of American sanctions. It shouldn’t be a hard choice.”

Mahan Air was designated for sanctions in October 2011 for providing financial and material support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps., which itself was targeted for sanctions in October 2007. The airline continues to operate a schedule of 3X-weekly flights to Syria, totaling more than 170 flights since September 2017, according to the Treasury Department.

Ben Goldstein, Ben.Goldstein@aviationweek.com