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Putin Restores Moscow-Cairo Flights After 2-Year Ban

Putin Restores Moscow-Cairo Flights After 2-Year Ban

Thursday, 4 January, 2018 - 16:30
Russian President Vladimir Putin makes his annual New Year address to the nation in Moscow, Russia December 31, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree approving the resumption of commercial air traffic to Cairo, according to a document published on the Moscow government’s website on Thursday.

"To add the words ‘regular air services to the city of Cairo’ after the words ‘with the exception of’ to Paragraph 1 [of the decree issued by the Russian president on November 8, 2015 "On separate measures to ensure the national security of the Russian Federation and protect Russian citizens from criminal and other abusive practices"]," the document reads.

Russia halted civilian air traffic to Egypt in October 2015 after extremist militants detonated a bomb on a Russian Metrojet flight shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh. All 224 people on board were killed in the crash.

Egypt has since boosted security procedures at many of its airports in response to Russian conditions to lift the flight ban.

Putin’s clearance for flights to resume was effective from Jan. 2, the Russian government document said, though it gave no timeline for the actual resumption of service.

Egyptian airport sources said flights would resume first between Cairo and Moscow in February, and negotiations about restoring flights to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, popular with Russian tourists, will follow in April.

“The resumption of flights between Russia and Cairo is a very good sign, giving hope that charter flights to the Red Sea resorts will be possible soon,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted the head of Russia’s tour operators association, Maya Lomidze, as saying.

The 2015 bombing aboard the Metrojet airliner, claimed by ISIS, and Russia’s suspension flight service dealt heavy blows to Egypt’s tourism industry, a major source of its hard currency reserves.

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