Air France cuts back on Iran flights, blames weak demand
Air France’s move comes amid international uncertainty over whether U.S. President Donald Trump will pull out of a nuclear deal with Iran, although the spokeswoman said the decision was not linked to the political climate with Iran.
Under that 2015 deal, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme to satisfy world powers that it would not be used to develop weapons. In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions, most of which were lifted in January 2016.
Bankers and others involved in business with Iran say they have been reluctant to travel to the country to close deals or negotiate the financing of existing ones because of uncertainty over the status of underlying U.S. sanctions, even before the latest standoff between Trump and Iran.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited Washington last week in the hope of persuading Trump not to re-impose sanctions on Iran by a May 12 deadline and imperil the 2015 deal.
Qatar Airways, however, said demand for travel to Iran remained strong.
Asked whether Qatar - which has maintained aviation links with Iran during a separate political dispute between Qatar and its neighbors on the Arab side of the Gulf - had seen business suffer due to uncertainty over the nuclear pact, Al Baker said:
“Not at all. Iran is a big market...of more than 90 million people: educated, very aggressive travelers and we are serving that market very successfully. We don’t get involved in politics. We are an airline.”
That is nonetheless higher than 4,666 in the summer of 2015, about six months before the nuclear pact came into effect.
Joon offers some business-class seats although it is mainly aimed at younger travelers with money to spend rather than at traditional business travelers.