Air service with Egypt may be resumed on phased basis — minister
Russia’s Transport Ministry may raise before the country’s leadership the issue of phased opening of a number of Egyptian airports, and Cairo airport may be the first, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Territory of Meanings forum.
"Theoretically, the issue may be raised before the country’s leadership concerning the phased opening of a number of airports of Egypt for organizing regular and charter flights. Generally speaking, Cairo airport may be the first in this sense," the minister said.
According to him, a second terminal for servicing Russian tourists may be opened in that airport. "This terminal meets all the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) requirements in the sphere of transport security. However, everything here depends on the Egyptian colleagues: when they inform us of the terminal opening, when our group comes there for auditing and making a conclusion. And it (conclusion) may be taken as a basis for making a decision by the Russian leadership," Sokolov added.
The minister said earlier that Russia’s delegation may pay a visit to Egypt in late August - early September.
Negotiations on resuming air service with Egypt have been underway since late 2015. At the moment, Egypt’s airports still fail to meet the Russian security requirements.
Air service with Egypt was suspended by Russia in November 2015 after a terrorist act on board an A321 plane of Russia’s air carrier Kogalymavia that was en route from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt to St. Petersburg in Russia. The passenger airliner crashed over the Sinai Peninsula early on October 31. All 224 people onboard, including 217 passengers and the seven-member crew, were killed. This crash was the worst in the history of Russia’s aviation. After that crash Russia suspended all flights to Egypt.
On November 17, at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov said that the crash had been caused by a terrorist act.
In November 2015, it was announced that the crash had been caused by an act of terror committed by means of a home-made explosive device with a yield of up to one kilogram of TNT. The Russian transport minister said that air service will resume after Egypt fully ensures security at airports. Russia’s key requirements for resuming flights to Egypt are the issues of using an automated biometric control access system and multi-level luggage control at Egyptian airports, and problems of in-flight meals control and video surveillance along airports’ perimeter. As a result of the air service suspension the Egyptian tourism industry has suffered huge losses, as the influx of tourists has declined twofold, mainly due to the absence of Russians.
On Monday, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy told a news conference in Cairo that Egypt and Russia had agreed on a roadmap for the resumption of air service between the two countries. According to him, the plan "envisages visits of several delegations of Russian experts who will inspect tourist facilities, including resort hotels, as well as will get acquainted with the latest security measures at Egyptian airports and the recent data of the commission" investigating the causes of the A321 passenger plane crash in Sinai in October 2015.
Yury Mishchenko, graduated from Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages, has more than 15 years experience in tourism and travel. Working both in tour operator company as destination manager, and in travel agency as sales manager, he is focused on analysis of Russian tour operators’ daily routine. Recently, Yury works in Baginet Marketing and Sales Agency.