Well, we now have some interesting new information. Consider closely this list of airline contacts from a Russian commercial database, trapped in the Google cache by chance. Note that the General Director (no less) of Air Van is listed as...Sargysan. Now, this may not be the same man. But there are reasons beyond the simple scumminess of the whole affair to think there are connections.
What is Air Van? It's a dubious airline, based inevitably in Dubai, with an Armenian registration - well, until the Armenian authorities killed its AOC in November, 2005. Being based in the UAE, of course, this doesn't seem to have stopped them. However, they have found it expedient to move assets out of the entity "Air Van" - transferring their brace of Boeing 747 classics, EK-74701/serial 21352 and EK-74702/serial 21054, to Buraq Air Transport of Tripoli, where they join no less than four Ilyushin 76 aircraft on lease from Viktor Bout's GST Aero. Air Van has also been known to turn up in Iraq during 2004, and leases aircraft regularly to IRS Airlines in Nigeria - an airline foul enough to offend Nigerian authority to the point where its AOC was revoked, although it somehow got it back.
We may as well link to this thread on PPRuNE, regarding who's behind IRS and Air Van, not to mention our old pals Financial Advisory Group. It's Imad Saba again, it seems. But there is more. In February last year, we had a report on the UNSCR report on arms to Liberia. In there was lots of good stuff, like words, and 707s laden with mortar bombs scraping their engine cowls down the Robertsfield runway as UN peacekeepers blazed away at them and terrified airporthands lunged for cover, what cover there might be on an airfield. In there was also much detail on a particular arms shipment - including something called "Gatewick Aviation Services" of Dubai, who chartered a Johnsons Air plane to move the guns from Iran to Liberia.
I pointed out that the cover-story used by one of the participants was crap, and that "Astral Aviation" of Kenya was just another front company, its aircraft coming from Phoenixavia, Air Bas, and Asterias Commercial, and one of them then being transferred to GST Aero.
Now, Air Van has a website at airvanairlines.com. It is incomplete and content-free, but look what happens when you do a WHOIS lookup.
Domain Name: airvanairlines.comWell, who'dathoughtit? Gatewick is Astral is Air-Van and all of them are not a million miles from GST, Air Bas, Imad Saba, or FAG. And Gatewick, that supposedly stole Astral's callsign, is actually Air Van. And Air Van's boss is supposedly one Sargsyan. Who causes trouble in Kenya with bling, crocodiles and allegedly, tonnes of cocaine. And Air Van's 747s were exported from the US to Swaziland, supposedly for Ariana Afghan Airlines, back in 2002...but ended up with IRS, still in their United Airlines colours and even using the UAL callsign, before coming to Air Van. Rather like the missing 727..
Created on..............: 01 Aug 2002 13:07:31
Expires on..............: 01 Aug 2006 13:07:31
DUBAI, -- 52404