IranMiddle East

Iran replaces civil aviation chief amid corruption, forgery claims

The Iranian government has decided to replace the country’s civil aviation chief after a report showed the official has been involved in corruption and forgery related to his academic credentials.

The official IRNA news agency said the Cabinet had appointed Touraj Dehqani Zanganeh as the new head of Iran Civil Aviation Organization (CAO.IRI).

Dehqani Zanganeh replaces Ali Abedzadeh whom the Cabinet thanked for services delivered during his time in CAO.IRI, said the IRNA report.

The appointment came hours after the Shargh newspaper claimed in a report that Abedzadeh’s academic credentials had been dismissed as fake by relevant authorities.

He has also been charged with corruption in a case related to purchase of planes during his time as head of Aseman Airlines.

Abedzadeh, appointed in August 2015, oversaw a tumultuous period in Iran’s aviation sector as the country has been grappling with an acute shortage of planes mainly because of the American sanctions imposed since 2018.

His time was also marred by a series of major aviation incidents, including the downing of a Ukrainian plane near Tehran in January, a case which is being investigated by Iranian and international authorities.  

CAO.IRI’s new chief, Dehqani Zanganeh, is a long-serving pilot who has been in charge of Iran’s flag carrier IranAir. The Cabinet on Wednesday appointed Alireza Barkhor as the new director of IranAir.

The top-level changes in Iran’s aviation sector come as the government struggles to restore trust in an industry reeling from a recession caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.

In remarks covered by official IRNA news agency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on the new officials in the civil aviation authority to tighten their controls on observation of aviation standards by airline companies and airports.

Rouhani said the country should make efforts to avoid “highly painful and damaging” aviation incidents like those seen over the past years.

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