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- British Airways and Air France announced on Thursday that they are axing their routes to Iran from September.
- 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 arrive 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.
Air France took a seven-year break flying to Tehran until April 2016.
Dutch carrier KLM announced in July that it would halt flights to Tehran “as a result of the negative results and financial outlook.”
Ruqayyah Moynihan contributed reporting.