File photo: In this August 21, 2015 file photo shows an EgyptAir Airbus A320 with the registration SU-GCC taking off from Vienna International Airport, Austria (AP)
Egypt’s flagship airline EgyptAir operated on Wednesday its first flight to the resort town of Taba in Sinai, a statement by the airline said.
EgyptAir operated a new Airbus A320Neo from Cairo to Taba and back, with 200 passengers on board.
The company said it has signed a contract with a tour operator to send two weekly flights to Taba to transport tourist groups during August and September, which is part of efforts to promote domestic tourism to counter the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar described the step as a “strong and promising start for the gradual return of tourist air travel to its rates before the virus outbreak.”
The announcement about flights to Taba came after the minister inspected Taba International Airport ahead of the start of air travel at the airport.
Egypt began a gradual resumption of regular international flights starting 1 July, after it had shut its airspace in March due to the pandemic.
Foreign tourists are currently allowed entry only into the three coastal Egyptian governorates with the lowest coronavirus infection rates – South Sinai, the Red Sea, and Matrouh.
The country said it will require all those arriving to the country to present negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) lab test result certificates starting 1 September.
The government has so far allowed around 600 hotels that have met safety protocols to reopen at a reduced occupancy rate of 50 percent in a bid to revive the country's key tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.