Tourists sunbathe in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on November 7, 2015 – AFP
CAIRO – 19 December 2017: After Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Egypt last week, Egyptian tourism sector has heaved a sigh of relief. Egypt Today sheds a light on what you need to know about the resumption of Russian air flights to Egypt.
On February 1, 2018, Egypt will receive the first Russian air flight after 26 months of the Russian air suspension. The Russian Transportation Ministry will propose a presidential decree by the end of 2017 to resume officially the air flights between Cairo and Moscow.
On October 31, 2015, Metrojet flight 9268 crashed shortly after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh on a charter flight to St. Petersburg, Russia. There were no survivors among the 224 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus A321. ISIS claimed responsibility for the terrorist act.
Tourists pictured returning from the beach in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 7, 2015 – AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed
On December 15, 2017, an Egyptian-Russian cooperation protocol in maintaining civil aviation security was signed after a meeting between Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi and Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov in Moscow, Egypt’s aviation ministry said in an official statement.
The protocol intends to resume flights between Cairo and Moscow for the first time since 2015, starting February 2018, the statement added.
FILE – Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi (L) Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov (R) , signing a protocol in Moscow on Dec. 15, 2017 on resuming flights between Russia and Egypt starting February 2018
The Russian minister manifested that the Russian air flights will resume first to Cairo, not Sharm el-Sheikh or Hurghada. Russian tourists can easily pay visits to Sharm el-Sheikh and other resorts with only LE 6000 ($335.46) after arriving in Cairo.
Hundreds of Russians visited Egypt in 2016 and 2017 despite the Russian air suspension, according to tourism expert Ganis Dezinis. Dezinis said, “Russian tourists used to come to the Egyptian resorts via Istanbul as a transit destination.”
The tourism sector is one of Egypt’s main foreign currency earners, which has suffered badly from the travel ban that turned the once 100 percent occupied resorts to empty places. Tourist inflow to Egypt peaked in 2010, when 14.7 million tourists visited the country, but the number fell to 4.5 million in 2016.
A tourist walks past empty sunbeds on a beach in Egypt – AFP
Russian and British tourists capture the largest portion of tourist inflows to Egypt. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the Russian tourist inflow to Egypt reached its peak in 2014, with tourists recording 3.1 million. Following the Russian plane crash, the number went down to 2.38 million in 2015.
According to CAPMAS, the number of tourists who visited Egypt in fiscal year 2016/17 rose by 259,700 tourists to 732,700 tourists. Additionally, tourist nights stood at almost 9.6 million nights in September 2017, versus three million in September 2016. Number of tourists recorded a 32.9 percent year-on-year surge in May 2017, according to CAPMAS.
The return of Russian flights would boost tourist numbers, but it should be noted that the industry is already recovering gradually.
Additional reporting by Mohamed Abdel Maguid