Cairo International Airport on 12 April 2018. (Photo courtesy of Egypt Ministry of Civil Aviation)
Egyptian national carrier EgyptAir sent its first flight from Cairo to Moscow Thursday morning after a more than two-year Russian suspension following the October 2015 deadly crash of a Russian tourist jet over the Sinai Peninsula.
The MS729 Moscow-bound flight departed at 9:35 CLT, the flagship airline said in a statement sent to Ahram Online.
A spokesman for the company said EgyptAir will be operating Airbus A320 flights to the Russian capital three times a week: on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
Late on Wednesday, an Aeroflot plane arrived in Cairo from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, in the first step towards resuming direct flights between the two countries.
Moscow grounded all commercial passenger flights to Egypt in late 2015 over security concerns after a Russian A321 airbus crashed in Sinai shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.
Russian travellers had comprised 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.
The two countries have yet to resume charter flights from Russia to the Red Sea resort cities of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh, popular destinations for Russian tourists.
This means Russian tourists aiming to visit the Red Sea will still have to transfer in Cairo to reach the resort cities.
The crash of the Russian flight dealt a blow to Egypt's tourism industry, a major source of hard currency for the country, with the number of foreign tourists visiting Egypt dropping from 9.3 million in 2015 to 5.4 million in 2016.
However, the figure has jumped by more than 50 percent to 8.3 million visitors, a government official told Reuters in January.
That number is still well below the 14.7 million who visited Egypt in 2010, ahead of the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak and ushered in years of political turmoil.
The country's official statistics agency has yet to announce final numbers for 2017.
Leaving to Moscow at Cairo International Airport on 12 April 2018. (Photo courtesy of Egypt Ministry of Civil Aviation)
Russian flight resumption is expected to boost Egypt's recovering tourism sector,
In December 2017, following many rounds of negotiations and security inspections to Egyptian airports by the Russian side, President Vladimir Putin issued a decree to resume commercial air traffic between the two countries' capitals.
A new round of talks between the two countries is set for later this month to discuss resuming charter flights from Russia to the Red Sea resort cities of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh.