Qatar Airways pledges continued flights to Iran despite sanctions

Qatar Airways pledges continued flights to Iran despite sanctions
The pledge comes after major European airlines stopped flights to Iran following the US sanctions' announcement.
2 min read
08 October, 2018
Qatar's commitment comes ahead of another round of sanctions due on 4 November [Getty]
Qatar Airways will continue to fly to Iran despite US sanctions on the Islamic republic, the airline's chief said on Monday.

Speaking at a high-profile business conference in the Qatari capital Doha, Akbar al-Baker said services to Iran would continue despite a tightening economic and political squeeze on Iran by Washington.

"Aviation is not a sanctioned industry, Qatar Airways will continue to operate into the cities we are currently operating in Iran," he said.

"Our flights to Iran will not be affected."

Qatar Airways' Iran destinations include Mashhad and Shiraz, while the airline operates daily flights to Tehran, according to its website.

Baker's comments come as US President Donald Trump's administration is expected to impose a second round of tough sanctions on Iran next month.

A first tranche of punitive measures were introduced in August by the US after it withdrew in May from the 2015 international deal aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Washington has also warned foreign businesses to steer clear of Iran.

Already, major European airlines including Air France and British Airways have stopped flights to Iran, following the sanctions' announcement.

Read more: In-depth: Trump sanctions bite as Europe-Iran flights grounded

Since June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a sweeping embargo on Qatar, sparking the worst political rift to ever hit the Gulf, in part because of Iran.

Saudi Arabia closed its only land border with Qatar, banning planes from their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from passing through their airports.

The four countries accuse Doha of seeking closer ties with Tehran, Saudi Arabia's arch-rival, as well as supporting radical Islamist groups.

Qatar categorically denies the charges, accusing its neighbours of seeking regime change.