Egypt inspects own Red Sea airports ahead of Russian delegation visit on resumption of flights

Ahram Online , Saturday 5 May 2018

Egypt awaits the anticipated arrival of Russian experts mid-May to discuss the return of flights to Red Sea tourist getaways nearly a month after flights resumed between the two countries' capitals

Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister, Sherif Fathy (REUTERS)

A committee comprising officials of the Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation (EHCAAN) and Egypt's Ministry of Civil Aviation are inspecting security procedures in Red Sea resort airports ahead of a visit of a Russian security delegation to discuss the resumption of flights to the resorts from Russia.

According to Al-Ahram Arabic news website, the Egyptian experts are visiting Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh airports, to follow up on measures taken to secure passengers and airplanes.

The visits come as Egypt awaits the anticipated arrival of Russian experts in mid-May, to discuss the return of flights to the tourist getaways nearly a month after the resumption of flights between the two countries' capitals.

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

In press statements in April, Egypt's Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy said that the two parties will discuss a future roadmap for the return of Russian flights to Egyptian resorts.

The head of Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency Alexander Neradko said in statements reported by TASS, the Russian news agency, 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.

Neradko did not provide details about the expected agreement.

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 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.

In 2017, Egypt saw $1.6 billion in tourism revenues from around 1.7 million tourists who visited the country in the first three months of the year, up from 1.2 million tourists in same period 2016.

Tourism revenues jumped to $2.28 billion in the first quarter of 2018 from $826 million year-on-year, according to the Central Bank in March.

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