Russia resumed flights to Egyptian resorts on the Red Sea on Monday, ending a ban that had lasted around six years following the bombing of a Russian airliner that killed all 224 people onboard.
The local branch of ISIS said it downed the plane over Sinai in October 2015, shortly after the aircraft took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
At the time, Russian officials insisted that security procedures at Egyptian airports were insufficient.
Early on Monday morning, EgyptAir flight MS724 took off from Moscow with 300 tourists. Hours later, the Airbus A300-330 landed in Hurghada, a popular Red Sea destination, Egypt’s national carrier said in a statement.
The Russian plane was welcomed by a ceremonial “water salute” on touchdown and Russian tourists, most of them wearing facemasks, were greeted with flowers and balloons upon disembarking.
The statement said EgyptAir would operate seven flights from the Russian capital to Hurghada and Sham el-Sheikh, on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. The first EgyptAir flight from Moscow to Sharm el-Sheikh was scheduled for Tuesday, it said.
The Russian state aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, has cleared eight Russian airlines to operate flights to Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh from 43 cities across Russia. However, the list does not include St. Petersburg, the destination of the doomed Russian airliner downed over Sinai.
For now, Rossiya, a subsidiary of the Russia’s state-owned flagship carrier Aeroflot, appears to be the only Russian airline with scheduled flights to the two Egyptian Red Sea resorts from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
Its flight FV5361 is scheduled to land in Hurghada early on Monday afternoon and the flight FV5633 is to land in Sharm el-Sheikh an hour and a half later.
Other Russian airlines cleared to operate flights from Moscow to Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh — such as Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary Pobeda and S7 Airlines, Russia’s largest privately owned carrier — have no flights scheduled for the coming days, according to their websites.