Putin greenlights resumption of Russian air services to Cairo

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President Vladimir Putin authorized the resumption of regular Russian airline flights to Cairo, according to a document published on the Moscow government's website on Thursday.

Russia halted civilian air traffic to Egypt in October 2015 after militants detonated a bomb on a Russian Metrojet flight departing the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.

Putin's clearance for flights to resume was effective from Jan. 2, the Russian government document said, though it gave no timeline for the actual resumption of service.

Resumption of flights

Egyptian airport sources said flights would resume first between Cairo and Moscow in April, then negotiations will begin about restoring flights to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el- Sheikh and Hurghada, popular with Russian tourists.

"The resumption of flights between Russia and Cairo is a very good sign, giving hope that charter flights to the Red Sea resorts will be possible soon," Russia's RIA news agency quoted the head of Russia's tour operators association, Maya Lomidze, as saying.

The 2015 bombing aboard the Metrojet airliner, claimed by ISIS, and Russia's suspension of flights dealt heavy blows to Egypt's tourism industry, a major source of its hard currency reserves.

A positive move for Egyptian tourism

The Egyptian aviation minister said the flights between Moscow and Cairo would resume on February 1 and that the two countries would resume charter flights in April.

Last September, during his participation in the International Tourism Exhibition, Hisham al-Dumeiri, head of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Authority, confirmed that there are strong indications that the crisis with Russian tourism will end soon, but he did not specify whether there are negotiations with the Russian side to determine the time for its full return.

Russian tourism has accounted for about 33% of the total tourist traffic to Egypt in 2014.

During the first 10 months of last year, Russian tourism to Egypt increased by 73.97% year-on-year, with the easing of travel restrictions.

(With Reuters)