Germany lifts ban on direct flights to Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh

Germany’s transport ministry has decided to resume direct flights between German airports and the South Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh after easing restrictions on air trips, Egypt’s foreign ministry said.

A number of European airlines and governments introduced restrictions on flights to Sharm El-Sheikh over security concerns after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai in October 2015, killing 224 people, most of whom were holidaymakers.

The German transport ministry issued a decision to lift a ban by German airlines, in place since November 2015, on joint transportation of check-in luggage on flights to the city’s airports, Egypt’s foreign minister said in a statement on Wednesday.

The restrictions had subsequently stopped direct flights coming from German airports.

Germany’s aviation authority has officially notified all tour operators of the ban removal which will see flights resume normally to the Red Sea resort, the ministry added.

The foreign ministry said talks between the governments of two countries to alleviate the constraints lasted for six months.

Officials from the German embassy in Cairo contacted by Ahram Online could not be immediately reached.

Egypt’s ambassador in Berlin Badr Abdel Atty said the decision came following a recommendation by German air travel inspectors who conducted security examination at airports in Sharm El-Sheikh and other Red Sea towns in March.

He said the decision mirrors Egypt’s “compliance to international airport security standards.”

He added that the move also “highlights that Germany is keen to push forward cooperation on airport security and open the door to the recovery of the tourism sector in Sharm El-Sheikh and Egyptian tourism generally.”

Around 170,000 German tourists visited Egypt in the first quarter of 2016, mainly frequenting the popular Red Sea beach resorts of Sharm and Hurghada.

Egyptian tourism, a pillar of the economy and a key source of hard currency, has taken a blow since the plane crash, with Sharm El-Sheikh believed to be suffering the most. The Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the October crash, saying it had smuggled a bomb on board.

Following the crash, the British government halted direct flights between Sharm El-Sheikh Airport, from which the passenger jet had departed, and British airports. It has since deployed expert teams to assess security practices at Egyptian airports, but flights to South Sinai have yet to be resumed.

source: Ahram Online