Russian inspectors in Egypt for final decision on flight resumption: reports

A delegation of Russian aviation safety experts arrived in Egypt on Friday to inspect Cairo International Airport, Russia state agency TASS quoted a source at the airport as saying on Thursday.

“A delegation of ten high-ranking Russian experts has arrived in Cairo from Moscow,” the source told TASS.

“They are scheduled to stay for three days but perhaps they will fulfill their mission in just one day. This matter is under consideration now, the final decision will be made on Friday,” the source added.

On Monday, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported that a delegation of Russian security experts were bound to arrive Egypt for what is expected to be the final security check of Egyptian airports before the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt.

The Russian team will inspect new biometric equipment recently installed in Egyptian airports.

Biometric equipment, which has been asked for by Russian experts, has already been installed at staff gates at Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada airports.

The equipment has also been installed at Cairo International Airport’s Terminal 2.

The delegation will review security measures at Cairo airport as well as the international airports in the two resort cities, all of which recently saw security upgrades.

The Russian experts will also review CCTV camera footage of recordings from the past 30 days to assess the security procedures put in place, as well as luggage inspection and handling

Sources in the civil aviation ministry say the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt should start at Cairo International Airport through the airlines EgyptAir and Russia’s Aeroflot, with flights to Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh to follow.

The visit by the Russian delegation will be the second in less than one month, as a team of Russian experts conducted a security inspection of the Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada airports in January.

Egypt has been implementing tighter security measures at its airports since a Russian passenger flight crashed shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport in October 2015, killing all on board.

Russia suspended passenger flights to Egypt shortly after the crash, and since then it has dispatched its experts for several inspections of Egyptian airport security measures in preparation for the resumption of flights.

A number of European countries that also suspended flights to Sharm El-Sheikh following the 2015 crash have recently reinstated direct flights to the South Sinai tourist hotspot.

Egyptian tourism, a pillar of the country’s economy and a key source of hard currency, has taken a blow since the passenger plane crash. Sharm El-Sheikh’s economy is believed to have suffered the most.

Egypt’s revenues from tourism dropped from $6.1 billion in 2015 to $3.4 billion in 2016, according to statements by the Central Bank of Egypt’s governor Tarek Amer in January.

Source: Ahram Online