the strange Romanian company behind the connection between the United Arab Emirates and Nicaragua

The aircraft was able to take off again on Monday, after four days of immobilization at Paris-Vatry airport for suspicion of human trafficking. But the vagueness persists around the company, called Legend Airlines, at the origin of the connection.


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Takeoff of the Legend Airlines plane immobilized in Vatry for four days, December 25, 2023. (REMI WAFFLART / MAXPPP)

Some of the Indian passengers stranded in the Marne at Vatry airport left on Monday, December 25, towards Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. On board, 276 passengers out of the 303 stranded in France.

Their flight, initially from Fujairah and bound for Managua in Nicaragua, stopped for a technical stopover in France on Thursday December 21. The courts then immobilized the aircraft on suspicion of illegal immigration. The Romanian company Legend Airlines operated the route. A company in the sights of justice for several days and which we realize that it regularly organizes United Arab Emirates / France / Nicaragua connections.

At least 8 flights in December

Legend Airlines operated at least eight flights between the Emirates and Nicaragua, via France, in the month of December alone. The planes – two Airbus A340-300s with a capacity of around 300 passengers – always take off from Fujairah, destination Managua with a stopover at Vatry but also sometimes at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. On December 21, according to the website, another flight from the company was in transit at Charles de Gaulle airport in the opposite direction: Nicaragua – United Arab Emirates.

If we go back further, this same company also operated two similar flights in the middle of summer: departure from the Emirates, stopover in Vatry and landing this time in El Salvador, still in Central America. But Legend Airlines is not a classic commercial airline, since it rents its services to companies. It was founded in 2020 in Romania and is certified by the Romanian Civil Aviation Authority.

Two Afghan shareholders

But since March 2022, its real owners have been Afghans. Two businessmen linked to Afghanistan’s main private airline, Kam Air, which is banned from operating in Europe because it does not meet regulatory oversight standards. According to information sent by the Romanian commercial register to Gabriel Bobon, founder of the website, Youresh Ramin is the majority shareholder with more than 50% of the shares. He is a Dutch citizen. Timor Shahab Shah, 45% shareholder, is a Turkish citizen.

It is since this takeover that the company began to acquire Airbus A340-300 aircraft, some of which were “previously operated by Belgium Airlines”, specifies Gabriel Bobon. The company therefore has at least two in its fleet. Still according to the founder of the site, “Other Airbus A340 aircraft are being acquired.” He specifies that none of these planes registered in Romania are in the country outside of the flight period. They are mainly stationed in Jordan and Turkey.

Charter flights and one-off rentals

The official Legend Airlines website surprisingly relays press articles that are skeptical of the company’s activity. For example, we find the following quote, taken from a publication by the Brazilian site Aeroin in August 2022: “The start-up remains silent on its business plan and has only indicated that it plans to operate ‘direct long-haul flights from Romania’ without specifying any destination or whether the flights will be regular.”

It seems that these are mainly charter (one-off) flights which are chartered by the company as well as rentals to other companies. Last June, the Indian low-cost company Spicejet rented two aircraft for routes between India and Mecca to transport Muslim pilgrims. Gabriel Bobon underlines, moreover, that the company being private it has no obligation to make its affairs and contracts public, nor to specify the nature of the flights carried out (business, tourism, freight, etc.)

Regarding the connections between Fujairah and Managua, Gabriel Bobon specifies that Legend Airlines is not the only company to operate them. According to him, the German airline USC (UUniversal Sky Carrier) would do it too.

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