Thursday, June 08, 2006

Khalid Rashid: A Strange Case

So George Galloway's involved himself in the deportation of one Khalid Rashid, a Pakistani national deported from South Africa in unusual circumstances. He was rousted and taken to an air force base, where he was placed aboard a plane chartered by the Ministry of Home Affairs which took him...well, we don't know where it took him, because there's no sign he actually arrived in Pakistan.

The South African courts are trying to force the government to give answers, for example the registration of the plane, where it went, when, and where the chap now is. In the meantime, files on the case were lost and recovered by a samosa seller in bizarre circumstances.

Very interestingly indeed, he seems to have vanished with the assistance of an aircraft registered in the UAE. Oh, really? Despite the fact that the Ministry was ordered to disclose the aircraft registration, and it was (obviously) a UAE one, nobody's published it.

But if we rule out Emirates, which seems fair, Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Air, as well as the UAE Royal Flight, that doesn't leave very many options. For a start, the UAE Government's Dubai Air Wing has several Boeing Business Jets (737-BBJ) and two 747s. There are a couple of freight-only operators, who for various reasons I leave out, Falcon Express of Iraq fame, who only have Fokker F27s and can be left out...and the two high dubiosity cases, Dolphin Air (ex-Flying Dolphin, ex-Santa Cruz, and on the UN blacklist), and AVE/Phoenix Aviation, of vile reputation for their assorted CBJ/Viktor Bout links.

Both have aircraft that might have been involved. Phoenix has two Boeing 737s registered in the UAE, A6-PHA and A6-PHC. The first, serial no. 23444, is currently operating for Iraqi Airways. The second, serial no. 23626, isn't. There's also a Boeing 767-200ER, A6-PHZ, serial no. 23280.

Dolphin, meanwhile, has the UAE-registered B737s A6-ZYA, A6-ZYB and A6-ZYC. -ZYC, serial no. 22679, is currently working for Iraqi Airways. -ZYA, 21926, is leased to Trans Air Congo. And -ZYB, 21928, is still with Dolphin. Then there's a 707, A6-ZYD, serial no. 20718, and an Airbus A300-600R, A6-ZYI, serial no. (*wait for it*) 666.

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