A delegation of Russian experts began its inspection tour of airport security in the city of Hurghada on Tuesday, as part of a two-day visit to determine whether direct flights between Egypt and Russia will be resumed.
The delegation includes one of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s assistants and other officials who are assigned to inspect security measures in Hurghada, Cairo, and Sharm El-Sheikh airports.
The delegation will submit a final report to Putin who will then determine the fate of the almost one-year suspension of Russian tourism to Egypt.
“We are awaiting the final report that will be issued by the Russian delegation. This report will determine the fate of future direct flights between both countries,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s media office told Daily News Egypt on Tuesday.
During the inspection tour, the Russian delegation met with Red Sea governor Ahmed Abdullah and Tourism Minister Yahia Rashed, according to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram.
Parliamentary speaker Ali Abdul Aal visited Russia in July after the chairperson of the Russian Duma invited him; a visit during which he advocated for the resumption of direct flights to the Red Sea cities.
Abdul Aal said that Egyptian airports have implemented about 85% of Russia’s demands regarding flight safety recommendations.
Egypt’s tourism had significantly declined following the 25 January Revolution; however, tourism suffered even more when a Russian plane crashed shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh airport in October 2015. All 224 passengers and crew on board were killed. In November, the Islamic State-affiliated group, Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for the plane crash, which was executed with an improvised explosive device (IED).
As a result of the crash, the United Kingdom and Germany suspended their direct flights to Sharm El-Sheikh as well. In June, the Russian ministry of transport said that Egypt has not updated them with any aviation security measures.
Furthermore, Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy visited Moscow in July and invited Russian experts to inspect Egyptian airports to resume the direct flights as soon as possible.
By Taha Sakr