File Photo: Egypt's civil aviation minister Sherif Fathy (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy has extended an invitation to a Russian technical team to visit the North African nation soon in hope of resuming direct flights between Egypt and Russia suspended in the aftermath of the deadly October 2015 crash of a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai.
On Wednesday, the state owned MENA news agency reported that Fathy, returning from a visit to Russia, underlined the importance of resuming flights who enjoy a “real strategic partnership.”
Fathy and an Egyptian security and technical delegation held several sessions with Russian counterparts on the latest developments related to security in Egyptian airports, with security measures in airports enhanced in preparation for the return of flights.
Fathy’s visit comes one week before the visit by Egypt’s Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek to Moscow to brief Russian officials on the latest news of investigations into the deadly October crash.
During his four day visit to Moscow, Fathy held several meetings with Russian officials, including Russian Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov.
According to MENA, Sokolov expressed Russia’s support for the constructive steps undertaken by Egypt in the field of airport security and infrastructure development.
Egypt’s tourism suffered a severe blow with the halt of flights from Russia in the wake of the fatal crash.
The MetroJet plane crashed in northern Sinai after departing from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, killing all 224 people on board.
An Islamic State group affiliate in Sinai claimed responsibility for bringing down the airliner with a bomb. The Russian authorities and other countries declared the incident a terrorist act, suspending flights citing security concerns in Egyptian airports.
In earlier statements to media, the Russian transport minister said that air services would resume after Egypt fully ensures security at its airports.
Egypt has said it has fulfilled 85 percent of Russia’s demands regarding aviation safety and is now expecting steps to be taken by the Russian side towards resuming flights.