July 10, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

Iran dealt new set back with Austrian airlines cancelling flights

The alpine country’s Austrian Airlines announced on Friday that it will stop service to the Iranian cities Isfahan and Shiraz, delivering another business set back to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s already fragile economic situation.

Austrian Airlines said it canceled its service to the Iranian cities, starting in September, according to the airline trade website Aviation Tribune. Austrian Airlines will, however, continue its service to Tehran.

Aviation Tribune wrote that “The underlying reason for these changes in the [Austrian Airlines’] route network is a realignment of the airline’s portfolio.”

The giant KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced on Saturday that it suspended service to Iran’s capital Tehran.

Austrian Airlines, which is owned by the giant German airline company Lufthansa, announced with great fanfare on its website in 2016 and 2017 the expansion of flights to Shiraz and Isfahan. According to the 2017 announcement, the carrier wrote that “Austrian Airlines expands offering to Iran: flights to Shiraz as of the summer of 2017.” The airline listed four weekly flights to Shiraz beginning in July, 2017, according to the airline’s website. In 2017, the carrier said that it will offer three direct flights each week from Vienna to Isfahan.

The cancellation of the Austrian service to the Iranian cities coincided with a diplomatic rift between Austria and Iran’s regime over an alleged plot to bomb a Paris conference organized by exiled Iranians who are seeking regime change in the Islamic republic.

On Tuesday, the Austrian government urged the Iranian ambassador to lift the immunity of an Iranian diplomat stationed in its Viennese embassy because of an alleged terrorist plot.

The diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, was detained on Sunday in Bavaria, Germany. Assadi is allegedly involved, along with Europeans of Iranian origin from Belgium, in the planned Paris bomb plot.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.