The first commercial flight to head to Iran from Egypt in 34 years took off from the Cairo airport en route to Tehran Saturday morning.

The Air Memphis flight, a private carrier owned by Egyptian businessman Ramy Lakah, had eight Iranian passengers, including two diplomats, airport officials told German news agency DPA.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Wael El-Maadawy announced earlier in March that charter flights between Egypt and Iran will begin within the coming weeks, linking Upper Egyptian touristic cities of Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel with the Islamic Republic.

Egypt and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in March promoting cooperation between the two countries in the tourism sector, in a development that was seen as unprecedented.

Egypt’s tourism minister, Hisham Zaazou, headed to Tehran in late February Sunday to discuss enhancing touristic exchanges between the two countries.

For his part, Iranian foreign minister Ali Salehy had announced in February that Egyptian tourists and merchants coming to Iran will be exempted from visa requirements.

Tourism between the two countries has been almost non-existent since all bilateral relations were severed following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Rapprochement between the two countries on the diplomatic level was reflected in Iranian President Ahmadinejad visit’s Egypt in February, where he held talks with elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and called for a strategic alliance with Cairo.

source: http://english.ahram.org.eg