LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways will resume direct flights from London to Tehran from July, renewing links with the Iranian capital after sanctions were lifted.
The British airline followed Air France-KLM in confirming its intention to restart flights to Tehran after Iran curbed its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of U.S., EU and United Nations sanctions in January.
The deal has sparked hopes that Iran could secure a wave of foreign investment for the country of 80 million people after President Hassan Rouhani visited Europe last week.
Owned by IAG, BA will initially run six flights per week before moving to daily flights from winter 2016, departing from London’s Heathrow Airport.
“The recent lifting of sanctions opens up exciting new prospects for Iran as a tourist destination and with its rich heritage, unique architecture and world-class food it’s unsurprising Tehran is tipped to be a popular destination for 2016,” said Neil Cottrell, BA’s head of network planning.
BA said it had a long history of flying to Tehran and offered its first scheduled flights to the city in 1946. It stopped regular flights in 2012 due to a combination of commercial and political reasons.
Britain reopened its embassy in Tehran in August nearly four years after protesters stormed the compound.
Post-sanctions Iran is set to be an enticing market for Western aircraft makers. Iran agreed last week to buy 118 Airbus jets worth $27 billion at list prices, including a dozen A380 superjumbos.
Reporting by Kate Holton in London and Mamidipudi Soumithri in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Adrian Croft