2 More Airlines Nix Routes to Iran Under US Pressure

Aug 23, 2018

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Air France and British Airways both announced Thursday they would be ending their routes to the capital city of Iran.

Air France said that the airline would cancel its Paris (CDG) to Tehran (IKA) route beginning September 18, attributing the cause to “poor commercial viability.” Just a few weeks ago, the French flagship carrier had already dropped its thrice-weekly service down to just one flight per week.

British Airways made a nearly identical statement Thursday, with routes between London (LHR) and Tehran ending on September 22 as well.

Similarly in July, Dutch carrier KLM announced that it would terminate flights to Tehran (IKA) by September 22, citing “negative results and financial outlook for the Tehran operation.”

Air France previously announced in May that its Joon subsidiary airline would only operate flights to Tehran during the summer season, blaming the route’s poor economic performance over the past two years.

In May, the United States exited an agreement with Iran that removed economic sanctions in exchange for the country ending its nuclear weapon development program. After the deal was nixed, Washington began re-imposing the sanctions that had been lifted in 2015. The first round of sanctions went into effect beginning this month, while others targeting Iran’s oil experts go into effect in November. The Trump administration also stated that the US would sanction American and foreign companies that continued to do business with Iran, although several world powers that still remain in nuclear talks with Iran vowed in July to support Iran oil exports despite American pressure.

Several major European aircraft manufacturers and airlines are on the shortlist of corporations that would be caught in the crossfire of US sanctions, including Airbus, ATR, British Airways and Lufthansa, as well as French hotel chain AccorHotels and Spanish brand Melia Hotels International, both of which operate hotels in Tehran.

For the time being, airlines still flying direct to Iran include Lufthansa, Austrian Airways and Alitalia, and most Gulf carriers including Emirates, Qatar Airways and Kuwait Airways still fly to Tehran as well. But this short list may change as the US continues to exert pressure on Iran through various sanctions.

Iranian airports reported a 5% decrease in passenger and cargo volume compared to the same timeframe in 2017. At the beginning of August, Iranian Air managed to acquire five ATR72-600 aircraft from French-Italian manufacturer ATR, just one day before the sanctions imposed by the US went into effect.

Additional reporting by Jessica Puckett.

Featured photo by Shutterstock.

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