Egypt repatriates over 24k stranded nationals since March – ministry

Egypt has repatriated over 24,000 nationals stranded abroad since March, according to a statement by the civil aviation ministry on Thursday.

The North African country has heightened efforts to bring citizens home before the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, which begins on Saturday, according to Ahram Online.

In an official statement, the ministry said 135 special flights operated by the state-owned carrier EgyptAir and Air Cairo had repatriated 24,750 citizens in two phases from 20 March to 21 May.

Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar Enabah said the flights were operated in coordination and cooperation with the foreign, emigration and expatriate affairs, and health ministries, and other relevant state authorities, under the aegis of the cabinet.

The flights came after requests were presented to embassies by Egyptians seeking to return home, he said.

He stressed that the ministry and its affiliated companies continue to implement the highest preventive standards inside airports and on board the flights, including strict disinfection and sterilisation.

Enaba also said his ministry continues to execute maintenance operations to ensure the readiness of Egyptian airports when a decision on the resumption of regular air traffic is taken, with new mechanisms and controls imposed to deal and coexist with the current status quo.

Egypt began repatriating its citizens in March after it grounded all international flights as part of sweeping measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The country has limited its air traffic to domestic trips and cargo flights.

The suspension will continue “until further notice”, according to a Tuesday decree by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly detailing the anti-coronavirus measures the country will take following Eid Al-Fitr.

Under rules introduced earlier, all citizens returning from abroad were required to be placed in two-week quarantine at designated hotels or university hostels.

However, Egypt decided last Tuesday to shorten a mandatory quarantine period for Egyptians arriving from abroad from 14 days to one week.