Russia to resume flights to Egypt's Red Sea resorts after five years

Russian services to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh were suspended after downing of an aircraft in 2015

Russian make up a large number of foreign visitors to Egypt, where tourism has traditionally accounted for about 10 per cent of total employment. Namir Galal / Almasry Alyoum / EPA
Russian make up a large number of foreign visitors to Egypt, where tourism has traditionally accounted for about 10 per cent of total employment. Namir Galal / Almasry Alyoum / EPA

Russia will resume flights to Egypt's Red Sea resort cities, ending a five-year suspension after the downing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt’s presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said Moscow’s decision to resume flights to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh was relayed to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi by Russian leader Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation on Friday.

He did not give a date for the resumption of the flights, but unconfirmed media reports in Egypt mentioned mid-May as a likely date.

The decision to resume flights followed "the joint co-operation between the two sides on this issue, and based on the standards of security and convenience provided for visits at Egyptian tourist destination airports", the presidential statement said.

The Egyptian military approach a section of the wreckage of the Russian passenger plane that crashed  after taking off from Sharm El Sheikh in October 2015. Maxim Grigoriev / Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations via AP
The Egyptian military approach a section of the wreckage of the Russian passenger plane that crashed  after taking off from Sharm El Sheikh in October 2015. Maxim Grigoriev / Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations via AP

Charter flights to the two cities dominated air links between Russia and Egypt prior to the suspension.

The suspension followed the downing in October 2015 of a Russian airliner shortly after it took off from Sharm El Sheikh. All 224 people on board the St Petersburg-bound flight were killed. Islamic militants fighting government forces in northern Sinai were blamed for the incident.

Hurghada, on the mainland coast of the Red Sea, and Sharm El Sheikh in southern Sinai are popular with Russian tourists because of their year-round sunny weather, sandy beaches and pristine water. Both resorts are world famous diving destinations.

The Russian decision comes at a time when Egypt’s tourism sector is being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. However, infection rates are believed to be negligible in the Red Sea region. Hotels there are instructed to operate at 50 per cent capacity and to enforce a strict preventive regime.

Russian tourists in recent years accounted for about 40 per cent of tourists who visited Egypt.

Egypt welcome 13 million tourists in 2019, the year before the epidemic struck.

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Tourists enjoy a low tide in the Red Sea in Egypt

Updated: April 23, 2021 04:33 PM

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