File Photo: Egyptian Ambassador to Moscow Ihab Nasr. Al-Ahram
Egyptian Ambassador to Russia Ihab Nasr said on Sunday the two capitals are discussing means to increase the number of recently-resumed direct flights between Russia and Red Sea resorts.
Twenty direct flights will be operated between Moscow and the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada on a weekly basis, Nasr said on Al-Hayah TV channel.
Hurghada International Airport received on Monday morning the first flight from Moscow after almost six years of the suspension of direct flights from Russia to Red Sea resorts.
The Airbus A330-300, which is operated by Egypt's flag carrier EgyptAir, carried 300 Russian tourists.
Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport is set to receive on Tuesday another EgyptAir flight from Moscow.
Nasr said 10 of the 20 weekly flights will be operated by EgyptAir with planes carrying 320 passengers each.
The other flights will be operated by the Russian airline Rossiya with a flight capacity of 570 passengers, he added.
Nasr said the Egyptian and Russian sides are now discussing additional flights between Russia and the Red Sea resorts, besides the planned 20 weekly flights.
Six Egyptian aviation companies have requested to operate flights from Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada to Moscow and other Russian cities, he stated.
Moreover, 29 Russian companies have requested to launch direct flights from Russia to the two Red Sea cities, Nasr said.
Discussions are ongoing between Cairo and Moscow to determine the number of additional flights in the coming period, given the coronavirus circumstances, the ambassador added.
Nasr said there is a high turnout from Russian passengers on flights to the Red Sea, saying all tickets for the current flights are fully booked.
The high turnout was recorded despite the fact that August is not the high season for Russian tourists wanting to visit Egypt, he noted.
In October 2015, Russia suspended direct flights to Egyptian airports following the crash of a Russian flight in Sinai that killed all 224 people on board.
Egypt has since upgraded its safety and security measures at its airports nationwide.
The country also received several Russian security delegations to inspect safety measures at the Red Sea and other airports.
Russian travellers are a major contributor to the country's tourism industry, a key source of hard currency.
In April 2018, Russia resumed flights to Cairo International Airport, ending a 30-month suspension, but the Russian ban on flights to Egypt's Red Sea destinations was only lifted last month, as per Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree.