September 01, 2016

British Airways is resuming direct service from the U.K. to Iran on Thursday after a four-year hiatus. The 9:20 p.m. flight from London-Heathrow to Tehran is the first for any British airline since 2012.

The decision to resume flights came after some sanctions were lifted in January, following a nuclear agreement between Iran and several international powers in July 2015.

The Iran nuclear deal was forged between the Middle Eastern country and the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany. Iran vowed to reduce its nuclear program, including scrapping 98 percent of its uranium reserves, in exchange for the easing of crippling economic sanctions.

The deal went into effect in January, and businesses are slowly returning to Tehran as some intrepid tourists follow suit.

British Airways was the first U.K. company to fly to Tehran in history and began its routes in 1946.

The airline will offer six flights per week with plans to conduct daily flights by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The announcement comes a few months after Air France resumed its flights to Iran in April, after a seven-year hiatus.

“Now we believe the time is right to start flying again to Iran and we are very excited to be adding another gateway to the Middle East for our customers,” Michele Kropf, PR Manager for the Americas, told Travel + Leisure in an email. “People want to go to Iran for all manner of reasons: reconnecting with family, for business and increasingly to appreciate the rich cultural heritage of the country.”

With 19 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Iran is the birthplace of one of the most important civilizations in the world. From the world famous bazaars and mosques, to newer attractions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, visitors today can now enjoy some of the many cultural and artistic sites that Iran has to offer.

Tourists who plan on traveling to Iran should be aware of the restrictions and guidelines for traveling to the country. U.S. citizens must acquire a visa before departure, and the U.S. State Department has maintained a travel warning to potential U.S. visitors, warning of the possibility of being detained by Iranian authorities.

Jess McHugh is a digital reporter for Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @MchughJess.

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