Kremlin: Too early to say when air links with Egypt may resume after A320 highjack
The Kremlin advises one and all to refrain from any conclusions regarding the resumption of Russia’s air links with Egypt before all circumstances of Tuesday’s plane highjack have been cleared up, As Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said, making any conclusions about the possibility of restoring air traffic between Russia and Egypt would be premature until all circumstances of the incident involving an A320 liner of Egypt Air have been investigated. ‘So far, I consider it premature to think anything [on the resumption of air communication]. Let us first get more or less reliable information [on the plane hijacking in Egypt]," Peskov told journalists. There are a lot of reports based on diverse sources about the plane incident, he said. "But we don’t know reliably what happened there, for what reasons and so on," the Kremlin spokesman said. Therefore, "it would hardly be reasonable to make any hasty conclusions," he said. A local flight from Burj al-Arab in Egypt’s Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked on Tuesday morning. The plane landed in Cyprus. According to preliminary reports, the hijacker, Egypt-born Ibrahim Abdel Tawab Samaha, has US citizenship and is a teacher at the University of Atlanta. He was registered as one of the passengers. All passengers of the hijacked flight except for five foreign nationals and crew have been released by now. There had been 81 people on board, including 30 Egyptians and 26 citizens of other countries. There were no Russians on the plane. The head of the Russian agency for tourism Rosturizm said on Tuesday the hijack of the Egyptian liner should be taken into account in making a decision to resume air links with Egypt. "The plane hijack affair is rather telling, I believe. I would avoid making any comments for now as to how this may affect the resumption of flights. The way I see it, the situation should be taken into account most seriously," he said. Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 2015 supported the proposal made by the director of Russia’ federal security service FSB Aleksandr Bortnikov for suspending air traffic between Russia and Egypt in the wake of the terrorist attack that resulted in the loss of an A321 passenger jet of the Russian air carrier Kogalymavia over the Sinai peninsula on October 31. There were 224 passengers and crew on that flight from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. Nobody survived. There have been no comments from the Russian Transport Ministry as to how the hijack of an Egypt Air plane might affect plans for the resumption of flights to Egypt. Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov on March 14 told the media the Transport Ministry had not yet received a confirmation from the Egyptian authorities all flight safety requirements had been met.