The UK representative of the Egyptian State Tourist Authority says he hopes the resumption of flights to the north African country from Russia will kick start the return of air transport between the UK and Red Sea resort Sharm el-Sheikh.
A Russian Metrojet charter flight was bombed shortly after take-off from Sharm el-Sheik airport in October 2015 in an attack claimed by the so-called Islamic State, following which flights from the UK were suspended.
Despite calls from Egyptian authorities, who claim the airport is safe, flights from the UK are yet to resume. All other European countries have permitted flights to Egypt to resume.
This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised flights between Russia and Egypt to resume following a two-year suspension. EgyptAir will operate a Cairo to Moscow route three times per week from February.
In response to the news, Amr El-Ezabi, director UK & Ireland for the Egyptian State Tourist Authority, said: “We are very pleased that flights between Egypt and Russia will now resume, as it’s a clear sign of the confidence that the Russian government has in the aviation and airport security standards that Egypt has introduced.
“We hope this will encourage flights back to Sharm el-Sheikh from the UK so that travellers can return to the destination.”
Around 230,000 Brits had travelled to Egypt in the first ten months of 2017, more than the 170,000 over the whole of 2016 but significantly less than the 750,000 who made the journey in 2014. The loss of flights to Sharm for the UK market was a major contributing factor to the decrease in numbers.
Russia suspended all flights to Egypt, not just Sharm el-Sheikh, immediately after the Metrojet incident, citing security concerns with the airports. The Egyptian government says it has since invested £20 million in airport security, working with a British aviation security firm.
At World Travel Market 2017, in London, the Egyptian ambassador to the UK claimed the security of Sharm el-Sheikh airport was safer than in some British airports and said the UK was “lagging behind” other countries in terms of travel to Egypt.
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