Thursday, 06 August, 2020

British Airways to resume direct London to Iran flights in July

British Airways has confirmed it is re-launching direct flights from London to Iran – the first British airline to offer the service in four years, British media reported.

Passengers will be able to fly direct from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Tehran from July 14, when the six-weekly service will launch.

The flights – available to book from February 3 – will then increase to daily flights from this winter.

The service from Heathrow Terminal 5 will be operated by a four-class Boeing 777.

Return fares to Tehran start from £384 for economy class, £728 for Economy Plus, £2163 for Business and £3763 for First class.

A re-launch of the flights was hinted at last month when Chief Executive Officer, Willie Walsh, said on 18 January, BA was close to reaching a decision on the reinstatement of Tehran services.

BA will be the first British carrier to offer a direct route since the lifting of economic sanctions was signalled last month in the wake of a historic nuclear deal between Iran and the US.

Earlier in December 2015, Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) also announced that it will resume flights between Paris and Tehran from April 2016. The airline said three weekly flights would begin from April

Confirming the return of the direct service, Neil Cottrell, British Airways’ head of network planning, said: “Iran is a large and growing economy and Tehran is a brilliant business city so we are incredibly excited to be adding another gateway to the Middle East for our customers.

The airline suspended the direct flights in October 2012 when British Midland International (BMI) became part of British Airways and the route was no longer deemed to be “commercially viable”.

Up until now, only the national carrier Iran Air has offered direct flights between London and Iran, as sanctions, travel warnings and poor relations have kept foreigners and investors away from the Islamic Republic.

Iran Air’s London services are limited due to restrictions on the airline using European airspace, so most British tourists en route to Iran have had to fly indirect, often via Istanbul.

British Airways has a long history of flying to Tehran and offered the first scheduled flights between London and the Iranian capital in 1946.

Iran has been playing catch up with its tourism and travel infrastructure since a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme was signed with Western powers last July, and the UK and Iran re-opened embassies in each other’s capitals shortly afterwards.

Middle Eastern operators such as the low-cost carrier flydubai have launched multiple routes from the UAE into Iran, while Accor Hotels has opened two hotels in the country.

British tour operators have seen a significant increase in demand for holidays to Iran since the British Foreign Office removed its advice against visiting the country last year.

While many countries in the Middle East remain off-limits to ordinary travellers, the relaxed stance towards Iran means foreign visitors can appreciate its dazzling mosques, 19 Unesco World Heritage Sites and dramatic mountain scenery.

Masoud Soltanifar, director of the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation, hopes to welcome 20million tourists a year by 2025, bringing in business worth £19billion a year. Currently, the country hosts around 4million tourists a year.

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