2 EU airlines halt flights to Iran

Two European airlines said on Saturday they were halting services to Iran, a sign of the crumbling purchasing power of Iranians as their economy buckles under the weight of Western sanctions.

Air France-KLM and Austrian airlines will suspend their service starting April 2013.

Austrian Airlines, a unit of Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa canceled its services to Iran .The carrier’s last flight from Vienna to Tehran will was on Sunday january 13 .

The Iranian rial has lost about two thirds of its value against the US dollar in the last year, following US sanctions on its central bank and a European Union embargo of Iranian oil, levied over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

That depreciation has made imported goods and foreign plane tickets far more expensive for Iranians.

The sanctions against Iran’s energy and banking sectors have made it more difficult for the Iranian government to earn foreign currency, raising concern that the central bank will not be able to defend the rial and depressing its value.

Austrian Airlines suspended its service to Tehran for more than two months last summer because it could not be sure of getting its planes refueled there.