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Saudi Arabia Bans Iran's Mahan Air, Citing Safety Concerns

Saudi Arabia says it has suspended licenses granted to Iran's Mahan Air to fly through its airspace and land at its airports for safety reasons.

Saudi's General Authority of Civil Aviation said on April 4 that several violations of airline safety rules had been committed by flights operated by Mahan Air to the kingdom, "prompting the suspension of licenses granted to the company."

The Saudi agency said the decision was needed to "preserve lives." There was no immediate reaction from Iran.

In January, Riyadh severed diplomatic relations with Tehran to protest the sacking of Saudi's Embassy in Tehran and halted around 150 direct flights between Iran and Saudi Arabia that carry thousands of pilgrims every month.

Trade between Saudi Arabia and Iran is small compared to the size of their economies. But tens of thousands of Iranians travel to the kingdom every year to complete the haj and umrah pilgrimages -- essential tenets of Islam.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP