Sweden stops flights to Iran over safety concerns

Sweden stops flights to Iran over safety concerns
Photo: AKBAR TAVAKOLI / IRNA / AFP
Sweden on Friday stopped direct flights to Iran, citing "unclarity" around the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane earlier this week where 176 people were killed.

The Swedish Transport Agency said in a statement on Friday that it decided to temporarily withdraw the traffic permit for Iran Air for flights between Sweden and Iran, citing “unclarity around the accident and safety for civilian air traffic.”

Iran Air is the only airline that flies directly between Sweden and Iran.

“We understand that this could create problems for travellers.

But the passengers' safety is paramount and that's why we have decided to temporarily halt the flights,” Gunnar Ljungberg, head of sea and air traffic at The Swedish Transport Agency, said in a statement.

All 176 people on board died when the Ukrainian International Airlines plane went down near Tehran on Wednesday, shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq over the killing of a top Iranian general.

American, British and Canadian officials say intelligence sources indicate Iran shot down the plane, perhaps unintentionally, but this has been denied by Tehran.

The Swedish foreign ministry on Friday confirmed that 17 of the victims were “domiciled” in Sweden, with seven being citizens and 10 registered residents.

“We demand that the incident is investigated speedily, impartially and transparently,” Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde wrote on Twitter.

While Iran Air's flights to Sweden were halted by a government agency, other airlines have voluntarily decided to halt flights to Iran.

Austrian Airlines announced late Thursday that its flight to Tehran that day was ordered to return to Vienna after a stopover in Sofia.

German group Lufthansa said Friday it was cancelling all flights to and from Tehran until January 20 “due to the unclear security situation for the airspace around Tehran airport”.


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