Austrian airlines to resume flights to Iran in March

Flights stopped early last year for what the company said were commercial reasons

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Austrian Airlines announced on Sunday it will resume flights to Iran in March after it stopped flying to the country early last year for what it said were commercial reasons.

The airline confirmed local media reports that flights to Tehran would resume from March 11, attributing the decision, in a statement on its website, to the "current stability" in the country.

Iran's Arman daily quoted the deputy head of the Civil Aviation Organisation, Mohammad Khoda Karami, as saying flights by Austrian Airlines "will be operated five times a week to Tehran."

The airline in its statement said it had ended flights to Tehran in Jan. 2013 "for commercial reasons."

"These included the strong inflation of the Iranian currency, the rial, and the effects of the economic and political sanctions on the ground in Iran."

Iran has been slapped by international sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme which the West suspects of covering a nuclear weapons drive -- allegations strongly denied by Tehran.

The sanctions contributed to the nosedive last year of the Iranian rial, which however has begun to recover since the administration of relatively moderate President Hassan Rowhani clinched a historic nuclear deal with major world powers in November.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear programme in exchange for modest sanctions relief and the return of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets.

The Tehran government has been able to stabilize the currency, which now trades at around 30,000 to the dollar from a low of 40,000 last year.

Only a handful of European carriers, such as Lufthansa, Alitalia and Aeroflot have continued operating in Iran.