Charter flights between Egypt and Iran expected soon: Minister

Ahram Online, Thursday 21 Mar 2013

Civil Aviation Minister Wael El-Maadawy says flights between Upper Egypt and Iran will begin soon; ban on hot air balloon flights will be lifted within days

Ahmednijad and Mohamed Morsi
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi(Photo: AP)

Charter flights between Egypt and Iran will begin within the coming weeks, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Wael El-Maadawy announced on Wednesday.

Flights will link Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel in Upper Egypt with the Islamic Republic.

El-Maadawy's statement came after an agreement between Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou and Iranian officials in Tehran in February.

Tourism between the two countries has been almost non-existent since all bilateral relations were severed following Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. 

A private carrier owned by businessman Ramy Lakah is expected to run the new routes, El-Maadawy said.

The visit to Cairo by Iranian President Ahmadinejad in February was considered by many observers to be a groundbreaking step in relations between Egypt and Iran.

Earlier this month, Egypt and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote tourism between the two countries.

Hot air balloons to operate again

El-Maadawy said the ban on hot air balloons flights would be lifted within days.

Strict controls and supervision would be imposed on hot air balloons flights, with periodic follow-ups to ensure accidents do not occur in future, he added.

"Investigations are almost over [into last month's hot air balloon crash] and we are analysing the cause of the accident. The results will be referred to the International Organisation for Civil Aviation," El-Maadawy said.

On 26 February, a hot air balloon crashed near the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor, killing 19 Asian and European tourists. 

Only the pilot and one British tourist survived the accident that took place after a gas canister on the balloon exploded.

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