New Mystery Jet Developments

There hasn’t been any Viktor Bout content here for quite a while..but fortunately, I now have some more interesting data. Everyone now knows about the flights between Baghdad International Airport and Dubai – they are still going on, by the way, under the IATA codes for Irbis, British Gulf, and Phoenix – but what about Baghdad’s other airport, Al-Muthanna? This field, located near the centre of the city, has been mostly known as the location of an Iraqi CDC-then National Guard-then Army base that gets suicide-bombed with depressing frequency, usually aiming at the queue of recruits trying to get in. However, yesterday there were four flights between it and Dubai..

At 0430, flight no. FC007 left Dubai for Baghdad (al-Muthanna). This is Falcon Express Cargo Airlines, the Fedex subsidiary that at one point was chartering dubious An-12 and Il-76 aircraft and has been doing some, ah, sporting flying into various parts of the country (the joke was that the movie Air America was part of line training there). The aircraft is a Fokker F27. Given that Muthanna airfield is next door to the Green Zone, I’d suspect this is a parcels/postal run.

At 1000, flight no. XU101 leaves Dubai for the same destination. XU is African Express Airways, a company registered in Nairobi. The aircraft is a Boeing 727.

At 1400, flight no. FC008 returns from Baghdad/M to Dubai. At 1600, flight no. XU102 does the same.

What do we know about African Express? There are only two 727s in its fleet – 5Y-AXB, serial no. 19565, and 5Y-AXE, serial no. 21611. This latter one is leased out to something called “Ishtar Airlines”, about which nothing is known except that it is based in either Baghdad or Dubai. Ishtar has the leased African Express 727, and one 737, registration A6-ZYC, serial no. 22679. This aircraft is leased from Dolphin Air of Dubai. Dolphin is the renamed Flying Dolphin, which was formed out of the assets of Santa Cruz Imperial by Viktor Bout and a certain sheikh, currently a minister in the UAE Government. At the moment, Dolphin is leasing one 737 to Iraqi Airways – the same one, 22679, as is on lease to Ishtar, weirdly, and operating two other aircraft itself. These are a 707, A6-ZYD serial no. 20718, and another 737-200, A6-ZYB, serial no. 21928.

Two other Dolphin aircraft, both 737s, are now with an old friend of ours – Phoenix Aviation of Kyrgyzstan. Serial numbers are 22632 and 21960. Their current registrations are respectively EX-632 and EX-006. A further 737, s/n 21926, A6-ZYA, is leased to Cameroon Airlines.

Now, African Express’s fleet includes an aircraft they bought from – Phoenix Aviation! Boeing 707 5Y-AXG, s/n 19369, was once 9G-ACZ for Phoenix, before passing through many hands and eventually being destroyed at Kinshasa in a crash. And another that used to belong to the now-notorious Air Leone in Sierra Leone. Leone is the renamed Ibis Air Transport, a company set up by the mercenaries around Strategic Resource Corp, Executive Outcomes and Sandline International. And, in passing, let’s not forget that Tim Spicer, ex of Sandline, has contracts in Iraq. The plane is a DC9, registration 5Y-AXF, s/n 237, formerly 9L-LDG.

5Y-AXE, meanwhile, originated with an obscure outfit called HA Airlines in Jordan, that bought three ex-Iberia 727s in 2001 but only completed the deal on one of them. HA was renamed Star Air in 2004, and moved headquarters to either Damascus or Bahrain. Who, pray, is Star Air? You may not be surprised to hear it’s one Paddy McKay, who founded Air Leone as an Equatorial Guinea firm after they were run out of Freetown in September, 2004. Sierra Leone thought they were dodgy enough to cancel their AOC! Jordan followed suit in January, 2005, forcing the name change and move.

Just to finish off, A6-ZYB of Dolphin Air was bought from a firm called Trans Air Congo in Kinshasa. Where have we heard of them before? Well, you may remember a photo of an Antonov 12, registered 9L-LEC, s/n 4341803, on the ground in Baghdad in January 2004 wearing “Skylink” titles. Later information showed that it had been delivering the new Iraqi currency – a job, I seem to remember, Tim Spicer’s Aegis Defence Services had a piece of. That aircraft was next photographed with TAC, in Kinshasa, looking sorry for itself, before being destroyed in an accident somewhere in the eastern DRC. And where did TAC get another An-12, serial no. 4342404, from? Why, Santa Cruz Imperial of Dubai. And where did it end up? Something called “Inter Transavia” in Kyrgyzstan.

Update: We interview Paddy McKay.


  1. The following is utter crap

    5Y-AXE, meanwhile, originated with an obscure outfit called HA Airlines in Jordan, that bought three ex-Iberia 727s in 2001 but only completed the deal on one of them. HA was renamed Star Air in 2004, and moved headquarters to either Damascus or Bahrain. Who, pray, is Star Air? You may not be surprised to hear it’s one Paddy McKay, who founded Air Leone as an Equatorial Guinea firm after they were run out of Freetown in September, 2004. Sierra Leone thought they were dodgy enough to cancel their AOC! Jordan followed suit in January, 2005, forcing the name change and move.

  1. 1 Coke en stock (II) A la recherche du Boeing perdu | Morice

    […] étant loué à “Ishtar Airlines”, basé à Baghdad et à Dubai. Le fameux 5Y-AXE, est unancien HA Airlines de Jordanie, qui avait acheté trois 727 d’Iberia en 2001, une société devenue Star Air en 2004, installée […]




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