Egypt to look after stranded Russian and Ukrainian tourists

Egypt cancelled its international wheat imports after invasion

Red Sea resorts are popular with Russian and Ukrainian tourists, many of whom have been stranded in Egypt because of flight disruptions caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Reuters

Live updates: follow the latest news on Russia-Ukraine

Egypt vowed on Thursday to look after Russian and Ukrainian tourists stranded in the country because of flight cancellations as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The tourism industry said all tourists from countries where air travel has been disrupted would be able to “stay in the hotels where they are in Egypt until their safe return home”.

The decision followed a flurry of flight cancellations after Russia sent troops across the border into Ukraine on Thursday.

All-inclusive hotels along Egypt's Red Sea coast are popular with Ukrainian and Russian tourists.

Flights from 11 airports in southern Russia and one airport in Moscow-annexed Crimea have been cancelled, Russia's main aviation authority said.

French carrier Air France and German airline Lufthansa have also suspended flights to Ukraine.

Tourism represents about 10 per cent of the GDP of Egypt, where a third of the 100 million population lives below the poverty line.

Direct flights from Russia to Sharm El Sheikh only resumed last year.

Russia banned flights after a chartered Russian plane crashed over the Sinai Peninsula shortly after taking off from Sharm El Sheikh in 2015.

All 224 people on board the St Petersburg-bound flight were killed. An ISIS-affiliated group claimed responsibility.

Meanwhile, Egypt's foreign ministry on Thursday called for “dialogue and diplomatic solutions” to politically settle the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

Egypt also cancelled its international wheat purchasing tender as a result of low turnout from major exporters on Thursday, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine are considered Egypt's top wheat suppliers, making up around 50 per cent and 30 per cent of the country's wheat imports in 2021, data collated by Gulf Financial News (GFN) from two regional traders shows.

After extending its submission deadline by an hour, Egypt's state grains buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), had one offer for French wheat for April 11-21 shipment, raising fears of supply disruptions.

“There is a risk-off mood today with the impossibility of making a business decision on wheat prices as a war has started,” one European trader told GFN.

GASC said the cancellation was in accordance with a tender book law that requires at least two offers to be presented for a purchase to be made.

US wheat traders said the offer received in the Egyptian tender was at “a painfully high” price of $399 per tonne on a free-on-board basis, compared to cargoes sold in a tender one week ago, traders said.

Egypt's Supply Minister said last week he was not concerned by a potential invasion of Ukraine because the north African country has a diverse pool of suppliers and the upcoming local wheat harvest starts in April.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Updated: February 25, 2022, 10:52 AM