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Iran Air says suspending European flights

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Iran Air on Sunday announced the suspension of all its flights to Europe until further notice, a decision apparently linked to a ban on the carrier's planes from entering European airspace.

[TEHRAN] Iran Air on Sunday announced the suspension of all its flights to Europe until further notice, a decision apparently linked to a ban on the carrier's planes from entering European airspace.

The statement issued by the company made no mention of the novel coronavirus epidemic as a cause, citing only "restrictions" imposed by European authorities for "unknown reasons".

The announcement came as Iran's health ministry reported 49 new deaths from Covid-19, the highest toll within 24 hours since the start of the outbreak in the country.

According to several specialised sites, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on February 3 banned Iran Air aircraft from European airspace.

The ban covered an Airbus A321-200 and two Airbus A330-200 planes that had not undergone necessary upgrades for authorisation to fly in Europe.

On March 2, however, Sweden announced it was temporarily suspending Iran Air flights on the advice of health officials who said Tehran was "not in control" of the coronavirus outbreak on its soil.

The carrier, whose fleet is hit by US sanctions reimposed after Washington quit a nuclear deal with Iran, operates flights to multiple European destinations including Paris, London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Vienna and Rome.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said Sunday that a total of at least 194 Iranians have died after contracting Covid-19.

The outbreak in Iran is one of the deadliest outside of China, where the virus originated.

AFP