A hot-air balloon flies over the village of al-Qurna, situated over a necropolis of more than 500 pharaonic tombs at the feet of the Theban Mountains, in the city of Luxor, south of Cairo, Egypt December 13, 2016 – Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
CAIRO – 5 January 2018: One tourist killed and more than 12 injured in a hot air balloon crash in the Luxor governorate in Upper Egypt, local news outlets reported on Friday.
Initial reports stated that the hot air balloon failed to land successfully due to the bad weather that Luxor and other Egyptian cities have been witnessing since Wednesday.
The Minister of Civil Aviation said the company owning the balloon was inspected this month. He added that the company had completely passed the inspection carried out by a committee from the Civil Aviation Authority affiliated with the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Egyptian Meteorological Authority warned last week that Egypt would witness instability of weather condition for several days due to the arrival of a cold storm in Egypt a few days ago. Authorities closed many ports and cancelled several flights due to the bad weather conditions.
Hot air ballooning activity was suspended in Luxor for several months after the death of 19 Asian tourists in 2013 in a balloon accident. However, recently, Egypt has seen Asian tourists regain their confidence once more in the Egyptian tourism sector, many of those tourists decided to visit Luxor again and go for balloon trips.
Hot air balloon flight activity in Luxor was also suspended for about a month in 2009 during Brigadier General Ahmad Shafik’s time as the Minister of Civil Aviation. The suspension came as a result of the Ministry realizing that the balloon flight program was not honest with regards to the “approach zones” to the Luxor Airport. The Civil Aviation Authority believed that hot air balloons were undermining safety guidelines and measures taken to ensure the safe landing and takeoff of airplanes. After the rectification of the “approach zones”, hot balloon flights resumed their activity.
Hot air ballooning is an extremely popular pastime for tourists visiting Egypt. The tour allows tourists to oversee the green fields on both sides of the Nile, and the sunrise over Karnak and Katchibsut temples, as well as the beautiful city.
“Between 12 and 18 hot air balloon trips are conducted daily in Luxor,” Egypt’s Hot Air Balloon Union told media outlets in May 2017.
There are eight companies that organize hot air balloon flights in Luxor. They arrange these flights for tourists and they subdue to strict security measures.