First Air France flight in 8 years lands in Iran

Tehran, Apr 17: The first Air France flight between Paris and Tehran for eight years landed in the Islamic republic's capital today, bearing a government minister and a business delegation.

The airline's route had been suspended since 2008 because of international sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme. However, sanctions have been lifted under an accord with world powers that has now been in force for three months.

Air France

Flight AF738 from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle touched down at Tehran's Imam Khomeini international airport at 1530 GMT, 20 minutes ahead of schedule, an AFP journalist said. French Transport Minister Alain Vidalies was on board, along with members of a delegation some 15-strong who will spend two days in the Iranian capital.

At a welcoming ceremony Vidalies said he was "proud of the resumption of these direct flights" and said being "able to move between Paris and Tehran was crucial... for entering into partnerships".

Iran's deputy transport minister, Ali Abedzadeh, said he was happy to see the Air France service resume. Frederic Gagey, the airline's chief executive, spoke of its "great pride in returning to Iran".

However, resumption of the service caused controversy in France after unions said the airline sent an internal memo saying female cabin crew would have to wear trousers on board with a loose fitting jacket and must cover their hair with a scarf when they leave the plane.

The headscarf rule is already in place when flying to certain destinations such as Saudi Arabia. But on Monday, a company official said female staff would be allowed to opt out of the route and the airline will appoint a "special unit" to replace those who do not want to fly to Tehran. Italy's Alitalia, Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa of Germany already fly to Tehran, and British Airways is planning to resume its London-Tehran service in July. 


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