Russian delegation to inspect Egypt airports amid expectations of flight resumption

Ahram Online , Menna Alaa El-Din , Sunday 28 Aug 2016

After the visit Russia will make a decision on whether flights to Egypt would resume

 Sharm el-Sheikh
Passengers board an Egyptair Express plane bound for Cairo at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport, south Sinai, Egypt, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. (AP)

A Russian delegation of experts is expected to arrive in Cairo this week to inspect security measures at Egyptian airports amid expectation of a resumption of Russian commercial flights to Egypt in October.

Egypt's Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy has said recently that there is ongoing cooperation with Moscow and that a decision will be made about the potential resuming of Russian flights in October following the delegation’s visit.

On Saturday, Fathy confirmed to Ahram Online reports by Russian media that Egypt was willing to allocate special terminals for Russian tourists if their numbers reached a certain level.

"If the Russian tourists reach a certain number, let's say three or four million, we can allocate a terminal for them," he said.

Russia, as well as several other countries, suspended passenger flights to Egypt last year over security concerns after the crash of a Russian jet minutes after taking off from the airport at the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

All 224 people on board were killed in the crash, which was claimed by Islamist militants.

Russian tourists were 20 percent of the nine million tourists that visited Egypt in the first nine months of 2015 before the crash, according to official data.

Fathy denied last week claims that Russia had requested that special terminals be set up in Egyptian airports for its citizens as a condition to resuming its flights to Egypt.

Russian transport minister Maksim Sokolov said last Tuesday that air traffic between Russia and Egypt may be resumed gradually, according to the Russian state news agency Sputnik.

Also on Tuesday, the director of the Russian Tourist Association Turpomosch Alexander Osaulenko announced that Russian experts are reporting positive assessment of security measures at Egyptian airports.

Meanwhile, Turkey announced that flights between Turkey and Sharm El-Sheikh would resume in September.

Poland already resumed flights in early August, while Germany decided last May to ease restrictions on flights between its airports and Sharm El-Sheikh.

The downing of the Russian flight was a blow to Egypt's already ailing 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.

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