Air Atlanta, Icelandic, Iceland, charter, airline, leasing, acmi, Saudi, Saudia, Jeddah, eastern Europe, Bulgaria, weapons, Yemen, Syria, UN, law

Icelandic airline accused of gun-running

An Icelandic charter and wet lease airline allegedly transported weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in Syria and Yemen.

An Icelandic charter and wet lease airline, Air Atlanta, has been accused of taking part in the illegal transportation of weapons from countries in Eastern Europe to Saudi Arabia.

From Saudi Arabia, they were then taken to the desperately war-torn nations of Syria and Yemen, the news programme Kveik revealed on Iceland’s national television channel RÚV.

As the programme pointed out, this particular transport of weapons is against international agreements as well as Icelandic law.

Conflict armament researchers at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a group of investigative journalists, found that most of the weapons were transported from Bulgaria, Serbia and Slovakia, Iceland Monitor reports.

Patrick Wilken, a specialist from Amnesty International, believes that the Icelandic government has failed in this matter by allowing it to happen.

However, transport minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannnesson was quoted by Kveik as saying that the government lacked the means to monitor where the loads from aircraft end up after reaching their destination.

A regulation on weapons transfer from 2014 which bans the transport of weapons to the countries of Syria and Yemen is currently being reviewed in accordance with UN law, he added.

Prime minister steps in
Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who has been prime minister since November, has subsequently said that the government has declined a request by Air Atlanta to renew its permit to transport weapons.

Founded in 1986 by a pilot and his wife, Air Atlanta Icelandic is a charter and ACMI airline based in Kópavogur. Today, the company operates in various countries around the world and has a fleet of 14 Boeing 747-400 aircraft.

Since January 2012, it has operated cargo flights on behalf of the airline Saudia from its hub in Jeddah to cities such as Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt Hahn, Hong Kong, Houston and New York.

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