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Russia's Putin signs decree resuming flights with Cairo

Ahram Online , Thursday 4 Jan 2018
sisi Putin
Egypt's president sisi and Russia's president Putin
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree approving the resumption of commercial air traffic between Russia and Cairo, which was suspended in 2015 following the crash of a Russian flight in Sinai, Russia's state news agency Sputnik said on Thursday.

Putin has approved an amendment to a 2015 decree halting all commercial passenger flights to Egypt, allowing the resumption of flights to Cairo but not other Egyptian destinations.

The amendment also excludes Cairo from a clause recommending tour operators and travel agents to refrain from providing air transportation to Egypt for Russian citizens.

According to a protocol signed last month between Egyptian Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi and Russian Transportation Minister Maxim Sokolov, direct flights between Moscow and Cairo are due to resume in February.

A new round of talks between Egyptian and Russian officials are planned to take place in April to discuss the resumption of charter flights from Russia to the Red Sea resort cities of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh, two of the most popular destinations for Russian tourists, Egypt's civil aviation ministry officials told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

Moscow grounded all commercial 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.

Egypt has since boosted security procedures at many of its airports in response to Russian conditions to lift the flight ban.

Last month, Egyptian and Russian officials signed a deal to lift the ban on flights.

The crash 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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