IranAir (IR, Tehran Mehrabad) has announced it has cancelled all of its flights to Europe, effective immediately and until further notice. In its brief statement issued on March 8, the carrier did not offer any explanation for the suspension stating only that the Europeans had imposed it for "unknown reasons."

However, in a separate statement, the secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines, Asadani Samani, said the move was in fact due to US sanctions.

"The Europeans have put in place regulations for passenger and cargo flights to various destinations, and these laws and regulations are conditional on having software exclusively owned by the US, and they will not supply it to Iran, which is why I say banning Iran Air flights to Europe has nothing to do with the coronavirus," he said adding that work was taking place behind the scenes to resolve the matter.

It is recalled that last month, IranAir "chose" to withdraw the use of its two A330-200s and single A321-200neo from flights to Europe after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) expressed concern at the currency of software the aircraft use. Since the reimposition of US secondary sanctions against Iran, the state-owned carrier has been unable to access updates from Airbus (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) to ensure its systems are up-to-date and compliant. As such, service to Europe was maintained albeit with its older A300-600s and A310-300s.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Civil Aviation Organisation are currently consulting to resolve this problem and allow IranAir to re-establish European flights...and we hope that it will be resolved as soon as possible," Samani said.

EASA was not immediately available for comment.

According to the ch-aviation schedules module, Iran Air would ordinarily offer flights from Tehran Imam Khomeini to Amsterdam Schiphol (2x weekly), Cologne/Bonn (1x weekly), Frankfurt Int'l (3x weekly), Gothenburg Landvetter (1x weekly), Hamburg Helmut Schmidt (2x weekly), London Heathrow (3x weekly), Milan Malpensa (2x weekly), Paris CDG (2x weekly), Stockholm Arlanda (2x weekly) and Vienna (2x weekly).