After historic phone call, Iran and U.S. may restore direct flights

Flights between Iran and the U.S. stopped 34 years ago when Iranian revolutionary students stormed the American embassy in Tehran. (File photo: Reuters)

Just days after the historic phone call between U.S. President Barack Obama and Iran’s newly elected Hassan Rowhani, Tehran has said it is considering how to restore direct flights to the U.S., reported UK-based newspaper the Guardian.

This would mean the return of flights between the two big powers for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Reports say that Rowhani has directed top presidential aide, Akbar Torkan, to pursue the resumption of Iran-U.S. flights.

Restoration of flights

Flights between Iran and the U.S. stopped 34 years ago when Iranian revolutionary students stormed the American embassy in Tehran and took diplomats hostage for 444 days.

According to the Guardian, the caretaker of Iran's high council for Iranian affairs abroad told local Iranian news agencies that Rowhani had issued the order to study how to restore flights following his meeting with Iranian expatriates in New York last week.

“He has ordered studying the start of direct flights between Iran and the United States in order to obviate the problems facing the Iranian expatriates' visits,” the caretaker was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency, reported the Guardian.

Effects of sanctions

Currently, to fly between the U.S. and Iran, travellers have to change flights in a different country, usually in Europe or the Arabian Gulf.

Personal travel is mostly exempt from U.S. sanctions although experts say there are various obstacles to overcome before a direct flight can resume.

Iranians have long complained that sanctions predominantly affect ordinary people rather than the Islamic republic's government.

Indeed, Iranian government officials often enjoy far more freedom than Iranian citizens in regard to flying.

Rowhani in the U.S.

Rowhani's extraordinary week in New York is still having knock-on reactions in Tehran. General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic republic's Revolutionary Guards, said to conservative Iranian Tasnim news agency on Monday that he approved of Rowhani's recent political actions. However, he did question whether his actions were premature.

“The honorable president adopted mighty and appropriate stances during this trip, particularly in his address to the United Nations general assembly,” Jafari said.

“He didn't find time to meet Obama in person … he should have refused to accept Obama's phone call and waited for the U.S. government to show concrete action.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40