Egypt's airspace to remain open to outbound, cargo flights during suspension: Govt

Ahram Online , Tuesday 17 Mar 2020

Egypt's aviation minister says a suspension of air traffic starting Thursday does not apply to outbound flights taking tourists home, or to domestic and air cargo flights

Shadow of an Egyptair airplane landing at Cairo International Airport in Cairo (Reuters)
Shadow of an Egyptair airplane landing at Cairo International Airport in Cairo, Egypt March 10, 2020 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's airspace will remain open to inbound charter and regular flights arriving empty to transport outbound passengers, and to cargo and domestic flights, during a temporary suspension of air traffic due to start Thursday, the aviation ministry said.

The government said Monday it would halt all air traffic from Thursday noon until 31 March, in a bid to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

"Egyptian airports will continue to receive inbound charter and regular flights [arriving] without passengers to allow tourist groups to complete their programmes in Egypt and return to their countries in their determined travel dates," the ministry said in a statement late on Monday.

During the suspension period, the country will not receive any new tourist groups, it added.

The suspension of air traffic does not apply to domestic and freight flights, the statement quoted Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar as saying.

During the suspension, authorities will sanitise hotels, Nile cruise ships, resorts and tourist sites and perform tests on tourism workers, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said, according to the statement.

Authorities will also work on restructuring and developing the tourism sector, as well as taking all precautionary measures to ensure the safety and health of tourism workers, he added.

Tourism is a main pillar of Egypt's economy and a key source of foreign currency.

El-Anany said earlier the tourism sector's losses will reach $1 billion per month after the suspension of flights.

The country has 166 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including four deaths, the health ministry said on Monday.

The government this week introduced a series of sweeping measures to combat the spread of the virus, including the suspension of schools and universities for two weeks, restrictions on the duration of mosque prayer services, and a reduction in the number of public sector employees required to go into work.

The country has also allocated EGP 100 billion ($6.3 billion) to finance a "comprehensive" plan to stem the spread of the virus.

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