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Moscow, Cairo expected to sign deal to resume flights Friday: Sputnik

Ahram Online , Thursday 14 Dec 2017
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File Photo: Tourists queue to pass airport security in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh (Photo : AFP)
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Egypt’s aviation minister will travel to Russia on Friday to sign a protocol deal to allow the resumption of Russian flights between Moscow and Cairo, which were halted following the 2015 downing of a passenger jet, Russian state news agency Sputnik said on Thursday.

“We expect that he will come on Friday,” Sputnik's Arabic website quoted Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov as saying.

Asked whether a flight resumption protocol with Egypt will be signed, the minister said: “We expect that it will be signed.”

Sokolov told reporters on Monday that flights could be resumed in early February.

Moscow grounded all civilian passenger flights to Egypt in 2015 over security concerns after a Russian A321 airbus crashed in Sinai shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh. All 224 people on board were killed in the crash.

An Egyptian aviation ministry source told Sputnik the minister would leave for Russia on Thursday, to complete procedures to resume flights between the two countries and to sign an aviation security protocol.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin met Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo to sign a deal for a nuclear power plant and discuss resuming flights.

The downing of the Russian flight has dealt a blow to Egypt's tourism industry, a major source of hard currency, with tourist numbers dropping by some 50 percent in the first half of 2016 year-on-year.

Russians used to make up the largest single tourist group in Egypt, contributing to about a fifth of foreign vacationers in the country as of 2015, according to official data.

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