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Iran-W. Europe aviation: capacity to slump further as tensions rise

The US air strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani signals a significant further escalation in tension between Iran and the West.

The landmark 2015 deal to limit Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for relief from sanctions (JCPOA) prompted a period of strong growth in international airline capacity to/from Iran. However, US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal and reimposed sanctions in 2018, and this led to a dramatic fall in international capacity.

Western Europe – the only region in the West with direct air links to Iran – enjoyed strong growth in capacity to Iran in 2016 and 2017, but suffered from a dramatic fall in 2018 and 2019. Five of the seven Western European airlines that served Iran in 2017 pulled out in 2018. Now only Iran Air, Mahan Air, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines provide direct services between Iran and Western Europe, and the number of routes has dropped from 20 to 12.

The latest developments must surely further depress demand for Iran-Western Europe air travel.

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