On May 5th, Touraj Dehghani Zanganeh was appointed the director of Islamic Republic of Iran Airlines (HOMA) by regime president Hassan Rouhani, replacing Farzaneh Sharafbafi. Sharafbafi, who had only been appointed director of HOMA in September 2018, by then Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Abbas Akhoundi, had many critics. Zanganeh was previously the founder and managing director of Me’raj Airlines, and he was recommended by Mohammad Eslami, the current Minister of Roads and Urban Development.
On May 24, 2018, the US Treasury Department sanctioned 9 Iranian and Turkish individuals and companies, as well as 31 aircraft belonging to four Iranian airlines, for aiding and supporting aggression and terrorism by using commercial aircraft to carry military supplies, personnel, and money to Syria and Lebanon. Touraj Zanganeh’s airline was one of those that were sanctioned.
Zanganeh, a longtime military officer, was formerly the manager of the air force’s hangars in Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport. After his retirement, Zanganeh was able to build Me’raj Airlines with the help of the connections he had made during his military service. Zanganeh outlined his goal for Me’raj Airlines as “the spreading of the rich Islamic culture in the countries of our destinations.”
The former Minister Akhoundi was impeached by the Islamic parliament in October, 2018. Although Reformists called his impeachment a mere factional dispute, behind the scenes, a long list of charges were imputed to him. These included: the issuing of licenses to establish airlines for certain individuals, including Kamotek, Dena, and Sepehran; the purchase of twenty faulty aircraft at double the normal price; the suspicious leasing of airplanes from Pakistan and Kazakhstan; his taking possession of the government pavilion at Mehrabad Airport; issuing pilot licenses to unqualified individuals who repeatedly failed the relevant examinations; and colluding with the Civil Aviation Organization to monopolize flights by preventing other airlines from flying high passenger routes.
At that time, Ahmad Alireza Beigi, an MP from Tabriz who was in favor of impeaching Akhoundi, alleged that Touraj Zanganeh was involved in Akhoundi’s corrupt deals, and Zangeneh was later summoned by the Mashhad Prosecutor’s office to testify about his relationship with the disgraced official.