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British Airways and Air France end all flights to Iran, sanctions loom



British Airways aircraft take off from Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 on May 28, 2017 in London, England.
A British Airways plane
takes off from Heathrow Airport in London in May

Jack Taylor/Getty

  • British Airways and Air France announced on Thursday
    that they are axing their routes to Iran from
  • The announcements come after Donald Trump pulled the US
    the Iran nuclear deal, a decision which brings escalating
    sanctions on Iran.
  • The next round — targeted at Iran’s vital oil and
    energy sector — and due to hit on November 4.
  • The airlines said the routes to Iran were cancelled
    because they aren’t making money.
  • Iran’s increasing isolation, compounded by the new
    sanctions, is inevitably part of the decision.

British Airways and Air France are axing all their routes to Iran
from next month, not long before a new wave of powerful US
sanctions kick in.

Both airlines said that their routes — to Tehran from London and
Paris respectively — are no longer commercially viable.

“We are suspending our London to Tehran service as the
operation is currently not commercially viable,” British Airways
said. This was its only route to Iran.

Air France said that it would stop flights to Iran on September
18 due to “the line’s weak performance.”

The decisions come after President Donald Trump
withdrew the US
 the Iran nuclear deal in May, a decision
which brought about new waves of sanctions on the country,

some of which kicked in at the start of August

The next round of sanctions begin on November 4, and target
Iran’s vital energy and oil sector. Outlets including the Wall
Street Journal and CNBC have said that their impact could crush
the Iranian economy.

Many western businesses have stepped back from Iran as a result.

International flights to Iran have been closely tied to the Iran
deal and the sanctions regime. Air France and British Airways
only revived their links to Iran in 2016 in the wake of the deal,
also known as the JCPOA (joint comprehensive plan of action).

British Airways’ last outbound flight to Tehran will be on
September 22 and the last inbound flight
from Tehran will
a day later, the airline said.

It apologized to travellers, and said it would offer refunds to
anybody due to fly after those dates.

“We are sorry for any disruption this may cause to our customers’
travel plans and we are in discussions with our partner
airlines to offer customers rebooking options,” British
Airways said in a statement.

“Alternatively, they will be offered a full refund or the
opportunity to bring their flights forward.  ”

British Airways, which is owned by IAG, was the first UK
airline to
restore flights to Iran in 2016
. Service had been first
suspended in 2012 due to deteriorating relations between the UK
and Iran.

Air France had first announced in May that it was cutting down on
flights from Paris to Tehran, which have been run by its low-cost
airline Joon, and would only offer them during the summer due to
a lack of demand,
Reuters reported at the time.

On Thursday British Airways’ website still offered flights
between Tehran and London, its only route to Iran, but it does
not let customers book flights after September 23. It advertises
Tehran as “ a bustling metropolis with a large,
friendly population.”

“And while Iran may have a strict conservative government,
change is coming,” it says.

It flew from London Heathrow to Imam Khomeini International
Airport up to six times a week, according to the website.

Dutch carrier KLM
announced in July
that it would halt flights to
Tehran “as a result of the negative results and financial

Ruqayyah Moynihan contributed reporting.

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