Russia and Egypt to restore direct flights

Russia and Egypt to restore direct flights
Russia's Foreign Minister on Wednesday said his country was working with Egypt to restore direct flights after their suspension following the downing of a Russian plane over Sinai last year.
2 min read
17 March, 2016
Flights have been suspended for seven months [AFP]
Direct flights between Russia and Egypt could be recommenced, after links were cut seven months ago when a Russian plane was blown up over the Sinai

Officials on Wednesday said final preparations are being made to restore air links between the two countries.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Egypt has been working closely with Russian experts and accepting their advice on boosting airport security.

"We have agreed to take steps to speed up that process [to re-establish flights] as much as possible," Lavrov said, without mentioning a specific date.

The Russian plane crashed in Sinai in October killing all 224 people on board.

Moscow said it was brought down by an explosive device, and a local branch of the extremist Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the bomb.

The crash and Russia's decision to halt direct flights to Egypt has dealt a severe blow to Egypt's vital tourism sector.

Egypt now hopes that restoring flights will give tourism a much needed boost, after being hit hard by October's attack.

Russians are one of the biggest groups of visitors to the Sinai's seaside resorts, including Sharm el-Sheikh.

"Egypt looks at this decision as an important indication of the strength of the relationship and understanding by the Russian Federation of Egypt's economic needs," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.