Russia set to resume flights to Egypt
Russia suspended all civilian flights to Egypt in 2015, when Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 went down over the Sinai shortly after leaving Sharm el Sheikh airport, killing all 224 passengers on board.
"On Thursday morning, the minister will fly to Moscow for finalising procedures to resume air communications between the two states," the Egyptian Aviation Ministry spokesman Bassem Sami told TASS.
"The visit will last two days, until Saturday. Any further information will be available upon his return," he added.
The announcement comes shortly after Russian president Vladimir Putin met with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Monday.
The pair have notably been strengthening bilaterial relations as of late. During Putin's visit, they signed a contract for the construction of Egypt's first nuclear plant, as well as reportedly discussing the resumption of flights.
Speaking on Monday, Russia's Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said that air service between Moscow and Cairo could be resumed as soon as February 2018 and Russia was ready to sign the relevant protocol in the coming days.
According to Sokolov, the date for signing the protocol "depends primarily on the Egyptian party," adding that Russia was ready to sign in the coming week.
|The two leaders have made a concerted effort to
strengthen bilateral ties in recent months, including
signing a contract for the construction of Egypt's first
nuclear power plant [Getty]
Russian security personnel visited Egypt in August 2017 to check on security procedures at Egypt's airports that were implemented by the government in cooperation with international security companies, an Egyptian aviation official told Daily News Egypt.
Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 travelling from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in the Sinai killing all 224 passengers on board. It is thought that militants from the so-called Islamic State group, who claimed responsibility for the attack, planted a bomb on the tourist jet at Sharm el Sheikh airport.The suspension of Russian flights dealt a devastating blow to Egypt's tourism industry, paricularly in Sinai resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh. Russian tourist numbers reportedly went down by 60 percent after the plane bombing.
In light of the warming relations between the two countries, Egypt is optimistic about its tourist numbers returning to their 2010 pre-Arab spring peak.
However a series of attacks, along with the persistent presence of an IS-affiliated rebel group in the North Sinai is preventing many European governments from following Russia's lead.