Cairo-Tehran flights suspended, a week after their historic return

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Incoming flights to Egypt from Iran have been suspended, the Egyptian tourism minister announced, only a week after the first direct flights between Tehran and Cairo flew for the first time in 33 years.

“We are re-evaluating our tourism programs with Iran,” Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou said Sunday.

Zaazou stopped incoming flights from Iran until the second half of June to reconsider “a recent move to promote tourism between the two countries,” he was quoted as saying in local press.

On Saturday, an Air Memphis flight departed from Egypt’s International Airport heading to Tehran.

The charter plane reportedly carried eight Iranian passengers, including two diplomats, to Tehran and then flew back to Egypt’s southern city of Aswan.

The airliner launched a new line between the two countries which focuses on transferring Iranian tourists to and from Egypt.

Egyptian officials had said that scheduled charter flights between Iran and Egypt would be announced soon, but the flights’ suspension may come as a pinch to the previously announced plans.

Civil Aviation Minister Wael El-Maadawy had said the flights would link the historic cities of Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel in southern Egypt with the Islamic republic.

Iran has been reaching out to Egypt since Islamists came to power in the wake of the 2011 revolution that ousted veteran president Hosni Mubarak, a staunch critic of Tehran.

Earlier in March, Egypt and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding to promote tourism between the two countries.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the first Iranian president to visit Cairo in more than 30 years, was given a red-carpet welcome by Islamist President Mohamed Mursi when he arrived in February.

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