European airlines take flight from Tehran
British Airways has canceled its direct flight to Tehran, while Air France has farmed operations to increasingly obscure carriers
British Airways, Air France and KLM have announced they are halting flights to Tehran next month, a move that comes against the backdrop of renewed American sanctions on Iran.
“The last outbound flight (from London) will be on September 22 and the last inbound flight from Tehran will be on September 23,” a British Airways spokesman told the Asia Times Friday.
In a press release, the airline said the “the operation is not currently viable.”
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will suspend direct service to Tehran on the very same dates.
“As a result of the negative results and financial outlook for the Tehran operation, the last flight will take off from Amsterdam on 22 September 2018 and land at Schiphol on 23 September,” KLM said in a statement.
Air France, which inaugurated a thrice-weekly Paris-Tehran flight with great fanfare in 2016, is also winding down operations in the Islamic Republic.
The French carrier months ago farmed out the Paris flight to its budget subsidiary, Joon. Currently, only connecting flights are available, passing through the KLM hub or Istanbul. Some itineraries even caution passengers of an additional overnight in Lyon “at your own expense.”
Starting mid-September, flights will be farmed out to more obscure carriers, such as Hop or Atlas Global.
It is a far cry from the atmosphere two years ago, when European carriers were optimistically relaunching flights to Iran in the wake of the 2015 nuclear accord signing.
A KLM press release from 2016 reads: “Iran’s economy has seen considerable growth as more and more international companies initiate business there. It is just one reason why KLM has resumed service to this important Middle Eastern destination.”
The US pulled out of the Iran accord in May, sending its fate — and hopes for Iran’s reintegration in the global economy — into doubt. Sanctions snapped back into place earlier this month.
In Europe, official defiance has not been matched on the ground, as major companies like Total pull out of the Islamic Republic.