Saturday,21 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1309, (25 - 31 August 2016)
Saturday,21 October, 2017
Issue 1309, (25 - 31 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Russian flights back soon?

Al-Ahram Weekly

A RUSSIAN security delegation arrived in Hurghada last week to inspect new security measures at tourist areas prior to deciding on the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt. 

The delegation then headed to Sharm El-Sheikh to inspect security measures for tourists. It included an assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin and met with Red Sea Governor Ahmed Abdallah and Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed during the visit. It will submit a report that will determine the fate of the almost one-year suspension of Russian flights to Egypt, halted following the downing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula last October killing all 224 passengers and crew on board.

Another Russian delegation is scheduled to arrive at the end of this month to review the security measures in Egypt’s airports, Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathi said on Friday. The delegation is expected to inspect security at three airports, Cairo, Hurghada, and Sharm El-Sheikh.

Fathi said in a press statement that the ministry was working in accordance with measures taken by joint committees from Egypt and Russia and said that restoring flights between the countries was just “a matter of time”. The Russian State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, is discussing sending a trial flight to Cairo that would carry a team of experts to run security tests, the speaker of the Duma’s transport committee said, according to RT Arabic. 

The steps are crucial to resuming Russian flights to Egypt, which could help the country’s ailing tourism sector to rebound. The Russian plane crash has had a devastating effect on the sector and caused revenues to fall by 66 per cent in the first quarter of 2016.

Two million tourists travelled to Egypt in this period, down from 2.2 million a year earlier, and the country garnered just $500 million in tourism revenues in the first quarter of 2016, down from $1.5 billion last year.

Russia is the largest market exporting tourists to Egypt, and the ban on Russian flights drove the number of incoming Russian tourists down by more than 50 per cent. Several European countries, including the UK, have also suspended flights to the Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.

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