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Air France allows staff to refuse Tehran flights after headscarf dispute

Air France has decided to allow its female crew to opt out of working on flights to Iran if they object to wearing a headscarf. The airline is resuming flights to the Islamic Republic following the lifting of sanctions.

The French national carrier said Monday it planned to appoint a special unit to replace any female staff who didn't want to fly the new Paris-Tehran route.

Air France management held a meeting with unions who had expressed concerns employees would be disciplined if they refused to work on the flight. The carrier issued a statement later in the day assuring female staff that they could choose not to fly if they were uncomfortable with covering their hair.

"Any woman assigned to the Paris-Tehran flight who for reasons of personal choice would refuse to wear the headscarf upon leaving the plane will be reassigned to another destination, and thus will not be obliged to do this flight," Air France human resources official Gilles Gateau told Europe 1 radio.

The company is planning to restart its service to Iran from April 17, eight years after it was suspended due to international sanctions imposed over Tehran's nuclear program.

Under Iranian law, women must cover their hair in public places. In a note sent out earlier to staff, the airline had warned female employees they would need to put on a headscarf upon leaving the plane in Tehran. It also said they should wear the uniform's long-sleeved jacket and trousers instead of a knee-length dress.

British Airways is also expected to resume its flights to Iran in July. A spokeswoman for the company told Reuters it would make recommendations to its crew closer to the time. German carrier Lufthansa, which continued to fly to Tehran while the sanctions were in place, said it had no major issues with the law, and that its crew complied with rules to cover up in public spaces.

nm/jil (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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