Gatwick has lost its link to Saudi Arabia after only seven months, but looks set to gain a route to Iran by the end of the year.
Saudi carrier Flynas quits flying from London to Jeddah and Riyadh tomorrow (October 25). The airline, which operated a hybrid business model, has failed to bring its formula to the UK, having also abandoned a Manchester-Jeddah service in August. This route lasted only four months.
Flynas leased wide body Airbus A330s for long-haul expansion but has now reined back its ambitions and is also axing services to Jakarta and its Pakistan destinations. In a statement it said: “As the load factors have not met the company’s commercial expectations, flynas is concentrating on enhancing its performance by focusing strongly on its successful domestic and regional services.”
The blow to Gatwick’s long-haul ambitions has been sweetened with the likelihood of the arrival of Iran’s Mahan Air, which has signed a deal with a ground handler at the airport, heralding the start of three flights a week to Tehran in mid-December. The destination already appears on the airline’s route map and it is thought the carrier will launch flights with an Airbus A340.
Mahan Air was Iran’s first private airline when it was established in 1992. It operates 52 aircraft and carries 5.2 million passengers. An expansion programme will see it begin flights to Beijing on October 28, the carrier’s third Chinese route. It will also serve Munich from November 12. The UK flights would compete against Iran Air’s three flights a week from Heathrow and with connections offered by the Gulf carriers.
A Gatwick spokesman said the airport would comment later.