November 26, 2018 / 3:52 PM / 21 days ago

Qatar Airways announces more flights to Iran weeks after U.S. sanctions reimposed on Tehran

DUBAI, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways will add more flights to Iran from January, the state-owned Gulf airline announced on Monday just weeks after the United States re-imposed sanctions aimed at crippling Tehran’s economy.

President Donald Trump has threatened to bar companies that continue to do business with Iran from the U.S. market.

Qatar Airways will add two weekly flights to its existing Doha-Tehran route and add three weekly flights on its Shiraz service in January. It will also launch two weekly flights to Isfahan in February.

“These latest launches are further evidence of Qatar Airways’ commitment to Iran, as well as the expansion of our network in this thriving market ...,” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said in a statement.

European carriers Air France and British Airways halted flights to Iran this year. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has also stopped flying to Iran, while Dubai’s Emirates and flydubai have consolidated some routes as part of a partnership led by their shared state owner.

Washington announced on Nov. 5 a series of sanctions targeting Iran’s banks, oil and shipping sectors, national airline and 200 individuals after Trump pulled the United States out of an international nuclear deal with Tehran.

The United Arab Emirates, a U.S. partner in the Gulf region that staunchly opposes Iranian foreign policy and swiftly backed Washington’s decision, has said it is fully complying with the sanctions.

The sanctions are aimed at forcing Iran to further curb its nuclear work, to suspend its ballistic missile programme and its influence in the Middle East.

Qatar has forged closer economic ties with Iran since June 2017 when neighbours Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut political and economic ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism and cozying up to Tehran. Qatar denies the charges.

Egypt and Bahrain also cut ties with Qatar. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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