European airlines are flying back to Iran this spring, with British Airlines leading the way — although its corporate office tried very hard to convince media otherwise.
Deputy Aviation and International Affairs Chief of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said Wednesday the UK carrier will resume London-Tehran flights in two months, quoting BA representatives from a visit on Tuesday.
British Airways (BA) CEO Willie Walsh told media two days ago that BA officials were “very interested in flying to Tehran and we are hopeful that it will form part of BA’s network in the very near future. We are actively looking at it as a destination,” he told the International Business Times. Other Heathrow slots are likely to be dropped in order to way for the service, which was stopped in 2012, a spokesperson had said.
“The related memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries ‘a while ago,’” Mohammad Khoda-Karami told the semi-official IRNA news agency.
He added that Spanish, Japanese and Malaysian (Air Asia) airlines have announced readiness to resume direct flights to Iran on a regular weekly basis.
A separate government official had earlier announced that Iran welcomes aviation cooperation “with all countries, save for the Zionist regime’s El Al airlines.”
The state-owned IRAN daily newspaper reported Thursday that Air France and KLM Airlines of Netherlands are on track to resume flights to Tehran this April. Both airlines had already announced the new route back in December.
“Air France is showing its ambition to develop itself in a country with dynamic growth and for which the European Union is Iran’s fourth economic partner,” the company said in a statement. France has a long history of commercial, political and social links with the Islamic Republic of Iran, dating back to the 1970s, when then-revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei lived near Paris.
“We’re happy to welcome you in our new AIRFRANCE KLM office in central Tehran,” announces a new website displaying a map with an address, phone numbers, hours and an email address – but little else. “We’re swapping our old office space for brand new, bright and spacious facilities to make you, our passengers, most comfortable from the moment you book your flights.”
Iran Air has been flying three times a week to London and twice a week each to Amsterdam and Paris.
In 2008 European airlines stopped flying to Iran after international and U.S. sanctions were imposed on the country in response to its defiance of United Nations nuclear mandates.Hana Levi Julian