File Photo: Russian tourists check in as they prepare to depart for St.Petersburg, Russia from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, south Sinai, Egypt, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 (Photo: AP)
A delegation of Russian security experts will arrive in Egypt in the next 48 hours for what is expected to be the final security check of Egyptian airports before the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported on Monday.
The Russian team will inspect biometric equipment recently installed in Egyptian airports.
The delegation will review security measures at Cairo International Airport as well as the international airports in the resort cities of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, all of which recently saw security upgrades.
The Russian experts will also review CCTV camera footage of recordings from the past 30 days to assess the security procedures put in place, as well as luggage inspection and handling, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.
Sources in the civil aviation ministry say the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt should start at Cairo International Airport through the airlines EgyptAir and Russia’s Aeroflot, with flights to Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh to follow.
Biometric equipment, which has been asked for by Russian experts, has already been installed at staff gates in the two resort cities’ airports.
The equipment has also been installed at Cairo International Airport’s Terminal 2.
Last week, a source in Cairo close to the ongoing inspection checks told the Russian news agency TASS “only after [the completion of those procedures] will we talk about the timing of flight resumption. In the best case, we can expect it by the end of February, and most likely in March.”
The upcoming visit by the Russian delegation will be the second in less than one month, as a team of Russian experts conducted a security inspection of the Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada airports earlier this month.
Egypt has been implementing tighter security measures at its airports since a Russian passenger flight crashed shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport in October 2015.
Russia suspended passenger flights to Egypt shortly after the crash, and since then it has dispatched its experts for several inspections of Egyptian airport security measures in preparation for the resumption of flights.
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.
Egyptian tourism, a pillar of the country's economy and a key source of hard currency, has taken a blow since the passenger plane crash. Sharm El-Sheikh's economy is believed to have suffered the most.
Egypt’s revenues from tourism dropped from $6.1 billion in 2015 to $3.4 billion in 2016, according to statements by the Central Bank of Egypt’s governor Tarek Amer in January.