Russia and Egypt are gearing up to restart air connection, which was suspended in the aftermath of the crash of Metrojet’s A321 last year. Investigation findings led to the conclusion that the crash was a terrorist act. Authorities of both countries elaborated a plan for enhancing security at Egyptian airports. Audits conducted by Russian aviation authorities in September this year revealed that many provisions of the agreement have been achieved.
Airports introduce improvements at a different rate. Cairo airport, which has recently completed construction of the new passenger terminal, has “resolved the security issues in full compliance with international requirements and even exceeding these standards,” Russian Transport minister Maxim Sokolov told Rambler News Service.
“Here we are still expecting installation of automatic biometric-based system of staff admission to sterile area. After that we’ll be able to say that all questions at this airport have been cleared,” Sokolov said.
Two other airports – Hurgada and Sharm-el-Sheikh – are preparing for installation of the same system.
Enabling these security functions at the airports is the main pre-requisite for restarting flights to Egypt.
In the next perspective Egyptian airport authorities will organize a separate passenger security checks for Russian passengers. Additional measures will be introduced in airports’ sterile zones. Apart from pre-flight checks an additional inspection will be organized at the gate prior to boarding (including metal detectors, gas analyzers and other equipment.
Dedicated terminals for Russian tourists will not be created. Egyptian authorities earlier explained that this will be possible provided the traffic from Russia justifies the costs. In Cairo, however, Russian airlines’ flights will be transferred to the new terminal equipped with the new security systems. Hurgada airport will also handle Russian passengers in a newer terminal. “But this does not mean there will be separate terminals, just separate zones for Russian passengers, or separate security check lines. We suppose we can negotiate that with our Egyptian colleagues for enhanced control and monitoring,” Sokolov said.
Organization of video surveillance of airport perimeters and terminal areas is also on the agenda.
“Although they are in buffer zone, they are still dual-use, so there is additional security provided by the military. But part of the perimeter is not covered by surveillance. But we have agreed that for the period while the system is not in place the 24/7 patrols, including police patrols, will be reinforced, and perimeter lighting will be enhanced,” the transport minister explained.
He did not specify when the air connection will be restored. Egypt is still to overcome some of its issues, including insufficient staff training. The connection will hardly be restored before the year-end.
In 2015 Russian airlines carried 4.7 million passengers between Russia and Egypt, down from 5.9 million passengers a year before.
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