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Russian minister says air traffic may resume in October after Cairo talks: Agency

Ahram Online , Thursday 29 Sep 2016

Air traffic between Russia and Egypt may resume in October, the Russian news agency TASS said on Wednesday, days after talks in Cairo between officials of both countries over the matter.

Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday that Russia is "ready to resume air communication with Egypt in October, if the Egyptian airports confirm the required level of safety," TASS quoted a source close to the ministry as saying.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich will hold a meeting next week to discuss the resumption of flights with Cairo at that time, the source added.

Moscow grounded all civilian passenger flights to Egypt last year 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, which was claimed by Islamist militants.

Sokolov said during his meeting with President El-Sisi on Tuesday that discussions between the two countries on the resumption of flights "have gone a long way."

Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi held talks in Moscow last week with Russia’s Deputy Transport Minister Nikolay Zakhryapin, where the two officials noted "significant progress" in cooperation in civil aviation security between the two countries.

The Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) has said 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.

The downing of the Russian flight has dealt a blow to Egypt's tourism industry, with tourist numbers dropping by some 50 percent in the first half of 2016 year on year.

Russians 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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