Boeing 737 aircraft stuck in Iran creates headaches for Norwegian airline

The repair work on the Boeing 737 aircraft has encountered problems because international sanctions bar the airline from sending spare parts to Iran. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019

Boeing 737 aircraft stuck in Iran creates headaches for Norwegian airline

  • The aircraft was en route from Dubai to Oslo with 192 passengers and crew members on board when it carried out a ‘safety landing’
  • The Boeing 737 Max has been stuck on Iranian soil where the airline’s mechanics are trying to repair it

OSLO: Norwegian Air Shuttle said Friday one of its Boeing 737s has been stuck in Iran for three weeks after an unscheduled landing due to engine problems, as US restrictions reportedly create headaches for the airline and possibly passengers.
The aircraft was en route from Dubai to Oslo with 192 passengers and crew members on board when it carried out a “safety landing” in Shiraz in southwestern Iran because of engine trouble on December 14, a Norwegian Air Shuttle spokesman, Andreas Hjornholm, said.
While passengers were able to fly on to Oslo the following day on another aircraft, the Boeing 737 Max has been stuck on Iranian soil where the airline’s mechanics are trying to repair it, Hjornholm said.
According to specialized sites such as www.airlive.net, the repair work has encountered problems because international sanctions bar the airline from sending spare parts to Iran.
With the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the Trump administration decided to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
Norwegian Air Shuttle refused to comment on those reports.
“I can only say that we are working with several options to get the plane back on the wings, and right now we are waiting for our technicians to be able to service the plane and to get it working,” Hjornholm said.
The incident has fueled jokes on social media.
“Iran has become a Bermuda Triangle that feeds on planes,” one Iranian Twitter user wrote.
It could also pose problems for the plane’s passengers and crew members if they want to travel to the US in future.
Since 2015, anyone who has traveled to seven countries considered at risk (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) since March 2011 is excluded from the US visa waiver program applied to most Europeans.
According to Hjornholm, the passengers and crew on the Dubai-Oslo flight officially entered Iran and stayed overnight at a hotel on December 14-15.
The US embassy in Oslo was not available for comment.
Last year, former NATO secretary general Javier Solana was refused entry to the US because he had visited Iran for the inauguration ceremony of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013.


Lebanese donor hands Nazi artifacts to Israel, warns of anti-Semitism

Updated 45 min 44 sec ago

Lebanese donor hands Nazi artifacts to Israel, warns of anti-Semitism

  • Abdallah Chatila spent about 600,000 euros ($660,000) for eight objects connected to Hitler
  • He said he had felt compelled to take the objects off the market

JERUSALEM: wealthy Lebanese-Swiss businessman said Sunday he had bought Adolf Hitler’s top hat and other Nazi artifacts to give them to Jewish groups and prevent them falling into the hands of a resurgent far-right.
Abdallah Chatila said he had felt compelled to take the objects off the market because of the rising anti-Semitism, populism and racism he was witnessing in Europe.
He spent about 600,000 euros ($660,000) for eight objects connected to Hitler, including the collapsible top hat, in a November 20 sale at a Munich auction house, originally planning to burn them all.
But he then decided to give them to the Keren Hayesod association, an Israeli fundraising group, which has resolved to hand them to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center.
Chatila told a Jerusalem press conference it had been a “very easy” decision to purchase the items when he saw the “potentially lethal injustice that those artifacts would go to the wrong hands.”
“I felt I had no choice but to actually try to help the cause,” he added.
“What happened in the last five years in Europe showed us that anti-Semitism, that populism, that racism is going stronger and stronger, and we are here to fight it and show people we’re not scared.
“Today — with the fake news, with the media, with the power that people could have with the Internet, with social media — somebody else could use that small window” of time to manipulate the public, he said.
He said he had worried the Nazi-era artifacts could be used by neo-Nazi groups or those seeking to stoke anti-Semitism and racism in Europe.
“That’s why I felt I had to do it,” he said of his purchase.
The items, still in Munich, are to be eventually delivered to Yad Vashem, where they will be part of a collection of Nazi artifacts crucial to countering Holocaust denial, but not be put on regular display, said Avner Shalev, the institute’s director.
Chatila also met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and visited Yad Vashem.
Chatila was born in Beirut into a family of Christian jewellers and moved to Switzerland at the age of two.
Now among Switzerland’s richest 300 people, he supports charities and causes, including many relating to Lebanon and Syrian refugees.
The auction was brought to Chatila’s attention by the European Jewish Association, which has sought to sway public opinion against the trade in Nazi memorabilia.
Rabbi Mehachem Margolin, head of the association, said Chatila’s surprise act had raised attention to such auctions.
He said it was a powerful statement against racism and xenophobia, especially coming from a non-Jew of Lebanese origin.
Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war and Lebanese people are banned from communication with Israelis.
“There is no question that a message that comes from you is 10 times, or 100 times stronger than a message that comes from us,” Margolin told Chatila.
The message was not only about solidarity among people, but also “how one person can make such a huge change,” Margolin said.
“There’s a place for optimism.”