Resumption of Russian air service to Egypt's Red Sea resorts in near future: Russian minister

Ahram Online , Saturday 14 Jan 2017

A final report by Russian security experts is expected 20 January

Maxim Sokolov
File Photo: Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, head of the government commission for investigating the causes of the Russian passenger plane crash in Egypt (Photo Courtesy of Russia's Kremlin)

The resumption of Russian flights to Egyptian Red Sea resorts will happen in the "near future”, Russia’s Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov suggested Friday.

"As for resumption of charter flights to the destinations that are popular among our tourists — to the Red Sea coast, Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada — that is a matter of the near future," Sokolov said in statements reported by Russian news agency TASS.

Sokolov said the ministry will prepare a final report on the security of Egypt’s Red Sea resort airports after 20 January.

The report is then expected to be referred to the Russian government.

The statements by the Russian minister come days after a team of Russian experts arrived Egypt for a security inspection of Red Sea’s airports Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.

Biometric equipment, one of the demands of Russian experts for enhancing Egyptian airport security, has already been installed at some staff gates of the two Red Sea resorts' airports.

Cairo International Airport’s newly inaugurated Terminal 2 was set to receive the same equipment on 12 January from Germany for immediate installation.

Egypt has been implementing tighter security measures at its airports since the crash of a Russian passenger flight shortly after it took off from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport in late 2015.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for downing the plane, which killed all 224 people on board. Egyptian investigations into the cause of the crash are still ongoing.

Egypt's tourism industry has been hit hard since the crash, with the number of tourists visiting the country dropping by 50 percent in the first half of 2016 compared to the previous year, according to Egypt's Tourism Authority.

A number of European countries that suspended flights to Sharm El-Sheikh following the 2015 crash have recently reinstated direct flights to the South Sinai tourist hotspot.

Russia, which leads European countries in sending tourists to Egypt, has inspected Egyptian airport security measures several times, promising to resume flights to the country soon.

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