Travel arrangements for the two passengers with fake identities on the missing flight MH370 bound for Beijing were made in the Thai resort town of Pattaya and paid for in cash, according to a report.
British newspaper Financial Times quoted the Thai travel agent who booked the tickets for the men as saying that she had been asked to arrange the travel by an Iranian contact.
Benjaporn Krutnait, owner of the Grand Horizon travel agency in Pattaya, was quoted as saying the Iranian, a long-term business contact who she knew only as “Mr Ali”, first asked her to book cheap tickets to Europe for the two men on March 1.
Benjaporn initially reserved one of the men on a Qatar Airways flight and the other on Etihad. But the tickets expired when Benjaporn did not hear back from Ali.
When he contacted her again on Thursday, she rebooked the men on the Malaysia Airlines flight through Beijing because it was the cheapest available, the paper said.
A friend of Ali paid Benjaporn cash for the tickets, the paper reported, adding that there is no evidence that Ali knew the two men were travelling on stolen passports.
Benjaporn said she did not believe Ali was linked to terrorism, particularly as he had not specified booking the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight but had instead asked for the cheapest route to Europe, FT reported.
Benjaporn was quoted as saying that she was speaking about the case because she was concerned over the speculation about a terrorist attack and wanted the facts to be known.