Russia plans to resume charter flights to Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada soon
Moscow hopes that charter flights fly again from Russia to the Egyptian resort cities of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada at the soonest possible date, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram. "I would like to reaffirm our interest in the resumption of regular air travel between Russia and the Egyptian resort cities," he said. "I expect that charter flights from Russia to Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada will be resumed as early as in the immediate future," he said.
The Russian foreign minister highly praised grandiose joint efforts of the Russian and Egyptian specialists in this area and also highlighted good prospects for bilateral cooperation in other fields. "The Russian-Egyptian relations have been progressing in many areas. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, an intensive political dialogue is maintained," Lavrov emphasized. "For example, the foreign ministries held bilateral consultations in Cairo this March at the level of deputy foreign ministers in charge of European affairs, as well as on our countries’ cooperation at the United Nations and on human rights issues."
Egypt hopes that Moscow will make a prompt decision on resumption of flights to its resorts, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in an interview with TASS on Sunday ahead of his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Cairo, scheduled for Monday, April 12. "We are looking forward to having flights from Russia to the Egyptian tourist areas resumed," he said. "We have done our utmost to reach the top security level at Egypt’s airports and in the resorts." According to the minister, the Egyptian leadership takes every precautionary measure to prevent and mitigate the spread of coronavirus in resort cities, which helps contain the pandemic and go ahead with tourism activity.
"Those efforts have facilitated an influx of millions of visitors from a variety of countries, who enjoy the warm sun here and go back home without any infections or implications of the pandemic," Shoukry said. "That is why we hope a corresponding decision is made (the resumption of flights to resorts - TASS) in the immediate future."
Russia suspended air travel to/from Egypt in November 2015 after a Russian Kogalymavia flight had crashed over Sinai when it was on its route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. A bomb went off onboard the plane minutes after takeoff, killing all the 217 passengers and seven crewmembers. The Russian Federal Security Service defined the accident as an act of terror.
In January 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree to resume regular flights to Cairo. The first flight from Moscow took place that April. Nevertheless, charter flights to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh are still banned. In the past years, Egypt has upgraded the system of screening, control and check-in of passengers and baggage, and also considerably modernized airport infrastructure.