A view shows an Aeroflot Airbus A320 aircraft (Reuters)
Russia is set to operate the first direct trip to the Egyptian seaside resort towns of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada on 28 February, after a five-year-plus suspension following the crash of a Russian flight in Sinai in October 2015.
The announcement was made by the head of Egypt's Civil Aviation Authority, Ashraf Noweir, who said that the Russian Nordwind Airlines will operate two trips a week to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada as of 28 February.
According to Noweir, the Russian decision comes on the heels of the latest week-long tour by a Russian inspection delegation that inspected safety and protective measures at Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada airports.
The airport security measures at the Egyptian airports were commended by the Russian transport ministry’s security inspectors, who led the inspection tour, said Noweir.
He added that Egyptian airports adopt all necessary security and air safety measures and are well-equipped with the latest inspection devices.
Russia’s flight suspension to Red Sea resorts has taken a heavy toll on Egypt’s tourism industry – a key source of hard currency – since Russian visitors were major contributors to the tourism market in the country prior to 2015.
In 2014, three million Russians visited the country, and in 2015, prior to the crash and the subsequent flight suspension, 2.4 million Russians visited Egypt.
Since 2015, Egyptian authorities have upgraded all safety and security measures at all of the country's airports.
As a result of the Egyptian efforts, Russia resumed flights to Cairo International Airport in April 2018, ending a 30-month suspension, but did not resume flights to Egypt's Red Sea destinations.
Over the past several years, Russian aviation and security experts have inspected safety measures at Egyptian airports, including Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, on more than one occasion.
International flights between Egypt and Russia came to a halt in March 2020 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak worldwide, but Russia resumed regular international flights to Cairo on 3 September, nearly two months after Egypt began a gradual resumption of regular international flights on 1 July.
Since July 2020, foreign tourists in groups have been allowed entry into the three coastal Egyptian governorates with the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the country – South Sinai, the Red Sea and Matrouh.