BERLIN - Germany's Transport Ministry plans to halt flights from Iran and China in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Bild reported on Monday, citing government sources.
The announcement came as incredulous commentators on social media could not understand the decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to permit Iranian regime flights to enter Germany. The Islamic Republic remains ground zero for the spread of the coronavirus in the Middle East.
Natalie Amiri, the Iran bureau chief for ARD German television, tweeted on Monday: "Iran is an epicenter of the coronavirus !!! Nevertheless, several IranAir flights from Tehran still land in Frankfurt every week. People enter Germany without tests at the border or quarantine requirements. Not understandable.”
Amiri linked to a screenshot of an IranAir flight that departed Tehran and arrived on Monday in Frankfurt.
#Iran ist ein #Epizentrum des #coronavirus!!! Trotzdem landen immer noch wöchentlich mehrere #IranAir Maschinen aus Teheran in Frankfurt. Die Menschen kommen ohne Tests oder Quarantäne Vorgaben an Grenze in #Deutschland rein. Nicht verständlich. https://t.co/PH8dwbsgcD pic.twitter.com/TlmuURwnQe— Natalie Amiri (@NatalieAmiri) March 16, 2020
Mina Bai, an Iranian-Norwegian writer, tweeted: "A plane from Iran came to Germany/Frankfurt tonight/last night despite the high risk of corona without any quarantine.”
A plane from Iran came to Germany/Frankfurt tonight/last night despite high risk of #Corona without any quarantine.@BenWeinthal have u seen this? pic.twitter.com/WYcMHsiHbj— mina bai (@bai_mina) March 16, 2020
German-Iranian dissident Kazem Moussavi wrote on Twitter: “Shame on Appeasement! Politics allows the Corona-Mullah-Airline to land in Germany.”
Iran’s regime announced that the country had more than 100 coronavirus deaths on Sunday. According to Fox News, it was “the nation’s biggest single-day jump in fatalities since the outbreak began, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ruled out a general quarantine amid the spreading global pandemic.”
Iran’s Health Ministry said the 113 new deaths brought the death toll to 724, and confirmed that there are roughly 14,000 coronavirus cases in the country.
IranAir has been accused of aiding Syrian President Bashar Assad in his war against Syrian opposition groups. The airline uses airports in the German cities of Cologne, Frankfurt and Hamburg for passenger and cargo flights. According to a UN resolution from 2010, IranAir was cited as a company that was possibly involved in sanctions evasion.
The US Department of Treasury sanctioned IranAir in 2011 for “providing material support and services to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps” and Defense Ministry and Armed Forces Logistics.
The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on IranAir after the 2015 nuclear deal lifted economic penalties on the airline.
The Jerusalem Post reported in October 2018 that Varengold Bank, which is based in Hamburg, conducts business with IranAir.
Reuters contributed to this report.