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British Airways, Air France To End Direct Flights To Iran

British Airways and Air France say they will suspend direct flights to Iran next month, blaming low profitability.

The British and French carriers made the announcements on August 23, as the United States is reimposing sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.

The flagship British carrier announced that its last flight from London to Tehran will be on September 22, with a return flight the following day, saying "the operation is currently not commercially viable."

Meanwhile, Air France is ending Paris-to-Tehran flights on September 18 due to "poor commercial viability," after dropping the number of flights from three per week to one earlier this month.

Passengers representing the automobile, energy, and nuclear sectors "weren't on our flights," spokesman Cedric Landais said, adding that tourism alone was not sufficient to keep Air France on the Paris-Tehran route.

Reacting to British Airways' announcement, Iran's ambassador to London, Hamid Baeidinejad, called the decision regrettable considering the high demand.

The moves come after Dutch airline KLM last month announced the suspension of flights to Iran effective September 24, citing "negative results and financial outlook."

British Airways, Air France, and KLM resumed direct flights to Tehran in 2016 following a years-long absence, as ties with Western countries were improving following the implementation of its nuclear deal with six world powers.

Service had been suspended amid a deterioration of relations between Tehran and the West over Iran's controversial nuclear program.

The August 23 announcements come after the United States in May pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal and began restoring U.S. sanctions that were lifted under the accord in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

The moves have weakened the Iranian economy, with the country's currency, the rial, falling sharply against hard currencies in recent months.

Britain and France, along with other European nations, have said they want to protect European companies that continue doing business in Iran.

However, international companies including French oil firm Total, German carmaker Daimler, and Deutsche Telekom have pulled out of the country since the U.S. decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, fearing they will be targeted by secondary sanctions.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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