The first flight from Paris to Tehran since 2008 landed in Iran Sunday, following the passage of a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and several international powers last July, the Associated Press reported. The Iran deal exchanged limits on the nation’s nuclear capabilities for eased sanctions and increased economic cooperation, and renewed business relations have begun to emerge following the deal’s implementation earlier this year.
“It’s a touristic destination which I believe is going to become very popular, very attractive,” Air France CEO Frédéric Gagey said Sunday, adding that he hoped Paris would serve as a hub for tourists from the U.S. or other places that were traveling to Iran.
Air France has landed in Tehran (reporters not allowed on the runway ...) pic.twitter.com/zJSt53cLuT
— Golnar Motevalli (@golnarM) April 17, 2016
France and Iran have long had both close diplomatic and economic ties. Air France operated flights to Tehran since 1946 until European Union and United Nations sanctions on Iran led to the suspension of flights between the two countries in October 2008. Sanctions have been slowly lifted following passage of the deal, and the two nations have begun rebuilding their trade relationship. A visit from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in January led to the purchase of 118 aircraft from French company Airbus for approximately $25 billion.
The renewed economic cooperation has not been without controversy, however. Several female employees of Air France voiced their opposition to a new policy announced by the company’s leadership that would require female members of flight crews working flights from Paris to Tehran to wear loose-fitting clothes and cover their hair upon arrival in Iran, in keeping with the practice of the country.
French law prohibits wearing religious symbols such as headscarves in schools and public places, and the French air transport union denounced the rule as an affront to women’s rights. Following the outcry, Air France said female crew members who objected to the rule would be able to opt out of working those flights.