Egypt to discuss with Russia resumption of flights to Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada

Ahram Online , Tuesday 17 Apr 2018

Tourists walk at the walking area of Naama bay in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, (File photo)

Egypt will discuss with Russia the resumption of Russian charter flights to the Egyptian tourist resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, nearly one week after both countries resumed flights between their capitals.

The recent flight resumption came after a 30-month ban by Moscow of flights between the two countries after a Russian airliner crashed in Sinai in 2015.

In press statements reported on the sidelines of the Aviation Africa 2018 Conference in Cairo, Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said on Tuesday that Egyptian officials will hold a meeting with their Russian counterparts  in mid-May, which will include an assessment of the situation following the recent resumption of Moscow-Cairo flights.

Fathy said the two parties will discuss a future roadmap for the return of the Russian flights to Egyptian holiday getaways. 

"We respect the decisions of our Russian counterparts. When the Russian side sees a suitable timeline for the return of their flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, they will be resumed in coordination with us," he told reporters.

The statements by the Egyptian civil aviation minister come nearly two weeks after the head of Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency Alexander Neradko said that the resumption of charter flights to Egypt's holiday destinations will only be discussed after Russian and Egyptian aviation security experts strike an agreement on an “interaction scheme” at Cairo Airport.

"To ensure our air passengers’ safety, a special group of (Russian - TASS) aviation security specialists will be in Cairo to assist their Egyptian counterparts in maintaining security at Cairo airport. We need to polish [our] interaction skills, and only then will we consider the resumption of flights to resort areas, namely, Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada," he said in statements reported by Russian news agency TASS.

In late 2015, Moscow grounded all commercial passenger flights to Egypt over security concerns after a Russian A321 airbus crashed over 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 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.

Last week, Cairo International Airport received its first Russian flight, operated by Aeroflot, and Egyptian national carrier EgyptAir sent its first flight from Cairo to Moscow.

The resumption of flights came a few months after Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree in December 2017 during his visit to Cairo to resume commercial air traffic between the two countries' capitals.

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