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Discussions on resuming Russian flights to Egypt ‘have come a long way’: Russia transport minister to Sisi

In the past several weeks, Russian delegations visited a number of Egyptian airports to inspect their security procedures

Ahram Online , Tuesday 27 Sep 2016
FILE PHOTO: Tourists walk at the walking area of Naama bay in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh,
FILE PHOTO: Tourists walk at the walking area of Naama bay in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, November 7, 2015. (Reuters)
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Russian transport minister Maksim Sokolov told Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday that discussions between the two countries to resume Russian flights to Egypt "have come a long way," an Egyptian presidential statement read.

Sokolov, who met with El-Sisi in Cairo, relayed to the Egyptian president a number of concerns regarding Egyptian airport security that need further discussion, the statement added.

In the past several weeks, Russian delegations visited a number of Egyptian airports to inspect their security procedures.

El-Sisi emphasised Egypt's commitment to providing the maximum security and protection for tourists in general and for Russian citizens in particular.

The president also emphasised the importance of continuing discussions between both sides until a decision to resume flights is reached.

Sokolov was expected to announce the resumption of Russian flights at a mid-day press conference in Cairo with Egypt's civil aviation minister, but the conference was cancelled with officials citing "lack of time."

Moscow grounded all civilian passenger flights to Egypt last year over security concerns after the crash of a Russian jet over Sinai shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh in October. All 224 people on board were killed in the crash, which was claimed by Islamist militants.

The downing of the Russian flight was a heavy blow to Egypt's tourism industry. The number of tourists coming to Egypt dropped by 50 percent in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period last year, according to Egypt's Tourism Authority.

Tourism revenues during that period witnessed a drop of 60 percent compared to 2015.

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

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