Russia resumes flights to Egypt after 6-year hiatus

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia plans to resume direct flights to Egyptian Red Sea resorts more than six years after Russian airliner crashed over Sinai Peninsula, the Kremlin said on Friday .

On Friday, President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi discussed resuming traffic to the cities of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh.

“In view of the joint work to ensure high standards of aviation safety at Egyptian airports that has been completed, a main agreement has been reached to restore full-format air links between Russia and Egypt,” a reading said. of the call.

The Egyptian presidential office also released a statement saying that El-Sisi welcomed the decision. Neither has clarified when the first flights would take place, but Russian media have said they could resume as early as mid-May after officials sorted out technical details.

The government’s anti-coronavirus task force has said it will announce the resumption of flights and other details such as the number of thefts, in the second half of May.

Russian air carriers have said they are ready to move quickly to arrange charter flights to Egyptian resorts, and tour operators have said they expect high demand.

Moscow has suspended all flights to Egypt after a bomb from the local Islamic State affiliate knocked down a Russian airliner over the Sinai in October 2015, killing all 224 people on board. In 2017, it resumed flying to Cairo, but direct trips to the two Red Sea resorts were interrupted.

The attack dealt a blow to Egypt’s vital tourism industry, which was also affected by the unrest following its 2011 popular uprising. Egyptian authorities have since spent millions of dollars to improve security. of its airports, hoping to change Moscow’s mind.

Earlier this month, Russia suspended most of its flights to Turkey until June 1, citing an increase in infections there, a move that has dealt a blow to the Turkish tourism industry and has scuttled the vacation plans of more than 500,000 Russians. Many of them might now consider Egyptian resorts as an alternative.

The recovery would be essential for Egypt’s tourism sector, which has suffered another blow from the coronavirus pandemic in the past year. It has maintained looser restrictions in Red Sea resort towns to try to attract foreign visitors.

Following ISIS bombing, Britain, another major source of visitors to Egypt, suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, the Red Sea resort in Sinai from where the plane of Russian doomed line took off. They lifted the restrictions in October 2019.

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