First Russian flight serves Egypt following protracted embargo

Egypt is one of Russians' most popular holiday destinations The bizav operator Sirius Aero was the first to fly to Cairo following the lifting of the ban on air services (Cairo Airport)

The first commercial flight from Russia has arrived in Egypt following more than two years of suspended air services with that country. The return flight from Moscow to Cairo, a one-off charter service in the interest of a private customer, was operated by the bizav operator Sirius Aero in early February.

The two countries’ authorities signed a protocol lifting the ban on bilateral air services in late 2017; later on, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree allowing Russian airlines to fly to the Egyptian capital.

Despite the decree having come in effect on February 1, scheduled flights between Russia and Egypt have not resumed yet. EgyptAir an Aeroflot, both of which used to serve the Moscow-Cairo route prior to the ban, are preparing to relaunch the service.

Russia’s Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov told TASS newswire that regular air services should be resumed in February: “Either EgyptAir or Aeroflot will start scheduled services before the end of February. The two countries’ authorized agencies are currently involved in the procedures related to the signing of the agreement; once this has been tended to, [Russia’s] Federal Air Transport Agency will immediately approve the resumption of flights.”

Sokolov says no carriers apart from Aeroflot and EgyptAir have thus far asked the Transport Ministry’s permission to operate the route, so he does not believe it necessary to negotiate additional designated carriers between Moscow and Cairo.

As things stand, five weekly flights are expected to be operated between the two cities: three by EgyptAir and two by Aeroflot.

The ban on air services between Russia and Egypt was imposed by Moscow in the aftermath of the crash of a Metrojet Airbus A321 in 2015, which was described as an act of terrorism. Prior to that, Egypt ranked as Russians’ second most favorite vacationing destination after Turkey measured by charter traffic for several years in a row. Services to the most demanded Egyptian resorts will not be restarted before April 2018 at the earliest, seeing as the Russian authorities were not satisfied with the results of the security vetting of Khurgada and Sharm El Sheikh airports carried out in late 2017.

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