Russia sees progress in aviation security talks with Egypt

Ahram Online , Sunday 25 Sep 2016

Following high-level meetings between Russian and Egyptian aviation officials, both sides said that progress has been made on a resumption of flights between the two countries

Airbus A-321
The Metrojet's Airbus A-321 with registration number EI-ETJ that crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, is seen in this picture taken in Antalya, Turkey September 17, 2015 (Reuters)

Russia said talks with Egypt on civil aviation security cooperation have undergone significant progress as Cairo seeks the resumption of air traffic between the two countries.

Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi was in Moscow last week along with a high-level security delegation to conduct talks over the return of Russian flights.

The Egyptian minister and Russian Deputy Transport Minister Nicholas Zakhryapin discussed "in detail" the course of working on a draft agreement on cooperation between the Egyptian and Russian government in civil aviation security, the Russian transport ministry said.

"To the mutual satisfaction of both parties, the two sides noted significant progress in this direction," said a statement in Russian by the ministry on its official website.

Both sides expressed mutual interest in the need to continue close cooperation in the full implementation of necessary security measures to ensure safe flight operations to and from Egyptian airports, it added.

They also discussed if there was any need to send more Russian experts to inspect airports in Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.

In their meeting with the Egyptian authorities, the high-level security delegation requested allocating a terminal for Russian tourists, a security source at the airport told Ahram Arabic website.

The Egyptian authorities said that the request was sent to the aviation and transportation ministries along with the security apparatus for consideration.

In August, the aviation minister confirmed to Ahram Online that Egypt was willing to allocate special terminals for Russian tourists "if their numbers reached three or four million." 

The meeting on Friday came as Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov is expected in Cairo to meet with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Discussions with both leaders will include "Russian-Egyptian cooperation in the field of civil aviation security and the 'road map' aimed at the resumption of air traffic between the two countries," the ministry's statement on Friday added.

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.

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

The Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) said on Tuesday that up to 500 monthly charter flights could be run by Russian airlines to Egyptian resorts if charter services are resumed, according to Russian state news agency Sputnik.

Cairo says investigations into the crash are still underway and that a delegation of Russian investigators is currently cooperating with Egypt’s general prosecution, which will issue a final report on the cause of the crash.

Britain also halted flights to Sharm El-Sheikh following the crash, with the suspensions dealing a huge blow to the country's vital tourism industry.

Russian, British and Italian tourists make up more than 50 percent of the total number of tourists that visit Egypt.

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