Egypt and Iran resume direct flights for first time in 34 years


Foreigners crowd the entrance to Cairo's International Airport on February 3, 2011.



For the first time in more than 30 years, you can now fly direct from Egypt to Iran.

An Air Memphis flight took passengers from Cairo to Tehran on Saturday, the first commercial service to do so since the two countries severed relations in the wake of Iran's 1979 revolution.

Eight Iranians were reported to be on board, including the Iranian chargé d'affaires and his family.

The resumption of direct flights was agreed upon in February, during a visit to Iran by Egypt's tourism minister.

The two governments have since signed an agreement to promote tourism between their countries, which is aimed at bringing Iranian vacationers to Egypt's historic sites.

More from GlobalPost: Are Iran-Egypt relations getting warmer?

In future flights are expected to go via tourist hotspots in southern Egypt – Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel – rather than the capital.

Cairo is not one of the officially approved destinations that Iranians will be permitted to visit, one Egyptian foreign ministry official told the Associated Press, "mainly because it is the site of shrines of revered Shiite figures."

There will also be restrictions on the number of Iranian visitors allowed in, according to Egypt's Foreign and Civil Aviation Ministries.

Meanwhile Egyptians traveling to Iran for sight-seeing or business no longer require visas, a decision announced in February in the wake of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's historic visit to Cairo.

The trip was seen as a landmark for Egyptian-Iranian relations, with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi quoted as saying that cooperation between the two countries was "necessary in all fields."

On the same day that flights resumed, Iran's deputy foreign minister headed to Cairo for talks with Egyptian and UN diplomats on the conflict in Syria.