Russian airlines to consider evacuating tourists from Egypt

Bassem Abo Alabass, Monday 19 Aug 2013

Russia's Federal Aviation Agency orders airlines to be ready to evacuate its nationals from Egypt amid deepening crisis

No official statement about Russian plans to evacuate its nationals from Egypt: Minister
Tourists sunbathe and stand in the shallow waters at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh (Photo: AP )

Russian Federal Aviation Agency has ordered airlines to make contingency plans for evacuating Russian tourists from Egypt, English-language daily newspaper The Moscow Times reported earlier this week.

“We have only been informed that the biggest source of tourists (Russia) warned its nationals to avoid travelling to Egypt,” Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou told Ahram Online on Monday.

Zaazou added that Egypt has not been officially informed of Russia’s recent plans to evacuate their tourists as violent clashes between the country’s government and backers of the ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi continue.

Russia’s largest airline, Aeroflot, said it was ready to take passengers out of Egypt as soon as it receives instructions to do so, company spokeswoman Irina Dannenberg was quoted by Moscow Times as saying. ”Anyone who changed his or her mind about flying to the country may fully cash back their tickets.”

Tour companies could lose $35 million because of cancelling the 50,000 trips to Egypt that had been sold, Maya Lomidze, the executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia was quoted by the Russian newspaper as saying.

The Egyptian minister predicted that Russia will remain the country’s main source of tourists.

According to Zaazou, Egypt received 2.5 million Russian tourists in 2012, the number, which was close to the tourism peak year of 2010 when the country attracted 2.8 million Russians.

“The number of Russian tourists (1.6 million) in the period between January and July of the current year is also considered to be a good sign that the travel warning will be temporary,” Zaazou said.

On Friday, German tour operators Thomas Cook Germany and TUI Germany, part of Europe's largest tour operator TUI Travel, cancelled all trips to Egypt through 15 September after the German foreign ministry advised its citizens against travelling to Egypt.

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