British Airways announces direct flights to Iran

British Airways has announced the launch of its new direct flights to Tehran from London Heathrow, starting September 1.

The announcement follows the recent relaxation of sanctions and offers choices for Iran as a tourist destination with its rich heritage and culture, exceptional architecture, and world-class food and delicacies.

Tehran is also an emerging market today with significant opportunities for businesses to grow commercial links.

Offering more choice and flexibility between London and the Middle East, British Airways’ new Tehran service will depart six times a week (every day except Sunday) from Heathrow’s terminal 5. The flight will depart at 21.10 hours and arrive into Imam Khomeini International at 06.25 hours the following day. The returning BA152 with depart Imam Khomeini International at 08.35 hours and arrive into Heathrow Terminal 5 at 23.10 hours the same day.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Head of network and fleet, said: ‘British Airways has a long history of flying to Iran so we are very excited to be launching our new six times a week service, direct from Heathrow to Tehran.

‘Iran is a fascinating country, full of amazing and surprising places for tourists to visit and discover its sophisticated and ancient culture.

‘The recent lifting of sanctions has also effectively allowed Iran to re-open for business and paved the way for commerce to re-connect with Iran’s economy, which is the second largest in Middle East and North Africa, with a diverse range of businesses and industries.’

Though yet to emerge as a popular tourist destination globally, Iran has much for travellers to explore. British Airways’ recommendations include the modern metropolis of Tehran with its magnificent mosques, ancient fortresses, regal palaces, temples, and dozens of museums; Darband, a very popular destination for day-trippers from Tehran; Mount Damavand, the highest mountain in the Middle East at 5,671 m, Alborz mountains with its excellent ski resorts, and the several beautiful beach resorts.

Other major attractions of Iran include Isfahan – Iran’s second city known as ‘Half the World’ due to its elusive beauty, with ancient mosques, palaces, and minarets including the UNESCO-protected Naghsh-e Jahan Square; Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire, Yazd, well-known for its wind-catchers (ventilators) and its Zoroastrian culture; Shiraz, with its several fine palaces and lush gardens as well as the famed Shiraz grape; Mashhad, located in the east of Iran and home to the shrine of Imam Reza, the largest mosque in the world, and the tomb of Persian poet Ferdowsi.’

The service from Heathrow Terminal 5 will be operated by a four-class Boeing 777 with return fares starting from GBP535 for customers flying in World Traveller, GBP938 for those flying in World Traveller Plus, GBP2198 for those travelling in Club World and GBP3,830 for those in First.

Visitors to Iran should check the latest travel advice with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before they fly:, the airline said.

UK, US and Canada intensify travel restrictions on Iranian regime

The UK, US and Canada have decided to work together to intensify travel restrictions on members of the Iranian Government, as part of our efforts to implement international sanctions on Iran.

This co-ordinated action will include steps by the UK to prevent Iranian human rights offenders and individuals connected with the Iranian nuclear programme from entering our country.

Announcing the UK measures, Foreign Secretary, William Hague said:

“Iran continues to seek equipment and components from around the world for its illicit nuclear programme. The United Nations and European Union have already imposed travel and financial restrictions on individuals associated with the nuclear programme. Consistent with these measures, the UK is working closely with its partners to prevent a wide range of individuals connected with Iran’s nuclear enrichment and weaponisation programmes from entering our countries. These include scientists, engineers and those procuring components.”

“We are also taking action against more Iranians who have committed serious human rights abuses, including government ministers, members of the judiciary, prison officials and others associated with the Iranian government’s brutal crackdown on its people since the disputed elections of 2009.”

“The UK is co-ordinating its measures closely with key partners, such as the US and Canada. The message to the Iranian government from the UK and its partners is clear: it needs to change its behaviour before it will be treated as a normal member of the international community.”

US and Iran building tourism relations

Hamid Bahael, Chairman of the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and Vice President of Iran, told eTurboNews (eTN) that all governments should forget political challenges when they talk about tourism relations. This is in line with the concept established long ago by Louis D’Amore of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism.

With the blessing of ICHTO, the American Iran Tourism Association, at the request of Mr. Hamid reza Talebi and under the management of Mr. Talebi, is operating in Tehran as the first organisation registered to exclusively further tourism relations between the US and Iran.

ETN has been a long-time supporter of non-political relations based on tourism. The American Iran Tourism Association in the US was established in Hawaii by Juergen Thomas Steinmetz, publisher of eTurboNews.

“It’s a big step forward to have this organization officially licensed and established in Iran,” Mr. Steinmetz said, “This is true pioneer work. Hamid reza Talebi, who had been an ambassador for eTurboNews in Iran for many years, has single handedly established this organization in Iran.”

The American Iran Tourism Association has been actively assisting Iranian visitors with questions regarding how to effectively apply for a US visa. The association has also established a one-on-one consulting session for future visitors to the US and is helping to find the contacts necessary to make a trip to North America a good experience.

The association is also assisting US travellers to Iran with all of their questions in order to overcome the challenges of travelling to Iran.

Steinmetz concluded, “I think this is a good start and shows how a private organization can make a big difference when it comes to relations between different people.”

The American Iran Tourism Association mostly relies on volunteers and receives no public funding. It is the hope of Hamid Bahjael and Juergen Thomas Steinmetz to increase tourism, further personal friendships, and foster a closer cooperation between their two countries despite these difficult times.