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Iran gives British Airways 30 days to pay US$13 million

January 17, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The Iranian government has given British Airways 30 days to repay more than USD 13 million allegedly owed to Iran Airports Company (IAC) – or face suspension of its flights.

The shock development comes as Iran moves to restock its national fleet with new aircraft, after many years of sanctions. Iran Air took delivery last week of its first new aircraft in 23 years.

Mohammad Reza Emami, an official with Iran’s Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, told Iran’s Mehr News Agency that British Airways owed the biggest debt to IAC of all the international airlines flying to Iran.

“The airports company usually specifies a timeframe for foreign airlines to settle their debt; but if they don’t, changes will be made to their flight schedule,” Emami said.

He added that BA had been given a 30-day deadline to repay its debt.

Tehran set against the Alborz Mountains

“Otherwise, all its flights will be suspended,” Emami declared.

British Airways resumed direct flights to Iran in September, following the lifting of sanctions on the country. BA had suspended services for nearly four years.

Meanwhile, Iran Air’s new Airbus A321 landed at Mehrabad International Airport in Iran’s capital, Tehran, last week.

Iran Air chief executive, Farhad Parvaresh, called it a “bright day” for his state-owned company and his country. The new aircraft is the first of 180 jets ordered from Airbus and Boeing after international sanctions were lifted last year as part of the nuclear deal between Iran and western powers.

Iran estimates that it needs more than 400 aircraft over the next decade, according to the Financial Times. Boeing and Airbus are desperate to sell to Iran and Iran is desperate for planes. Of the 230 aircraft owned by Iran’s 15 airlines, fewer than 160 are in service.

The rest have been grounded because sanctions have made it difficult or impossible to obtain spare parts.

The big question hanging over the deal is Donald Trump, who will become US president this Friday. Trump has called the Iran nuclear accord a “horrible deal” and has said he will renegotiate it. If that results in sanctions being reimposed, sales of planes to Iran will stop.

Trump may have difficulty renegotiating the deal because it is not just between Iran and the US. It was negotiated by seven countries and the European Union and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.

Written by Peter Needham

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