Air France to allow female cabin crew and pilots to opt out of flying routes to Tehran requirement for covering hair

Air France said it would allow female cabin crew and pilots to opt out of flying routes to Tehran after staff protested against being told to compulsorily have to cover their hair when in Iran.

Air France, part of the Franco-Dutch group Air France-KLM, would resume flights to Tehran from 17 April following an eight-year hiatus due to sanctions.

After a meeting between Air France management and unions yesterday, the French carrier said it would offer female staff the choice to opt out of the flights.

The law in Iran requires women to cover their hair in public places. Unions had raised concerns over an Air France ruling which would require female crew to wear a headscarf on leaving a plane.

The wearing of headscarves and other religious symbols had sparked a heated debate in France, which attaches importance to the separation of state and religious institutions.

"This obligation does not apply during the flight and is respected by all international airlines serving the Republic of Iran," Air France said in a statement yesterday.

A spokeswoman for British Airways, part of International Consolidated Airlines Group, which planned to restart flights to Iran from Heathrow on 14 July said it would make recommendations to its crew around that time.

Air France would appoint a  ''special unit'' to replace those who did not want to fly to Tehran, a company official said, AFP reported.