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Monday, 31 May 2021

It’s Groundhog Day on the Red Sea

A delegation of 12 Russian security and safety experts arrived in Egypt yesterday to conduct yet another round of “control inspections” of Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh airports, assessing the aviation security measures as well as protective measures against covid-19 to ensure the safety of tourists, Russian news agency Tass reported, citing a spokesperson for the Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation. Inspectors will assess the security and sanitary measures in place at airport terminals, planes and baggage handling areas, the spokesperson said.

Inspect. Check. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Russian safety teams have inspected Egypt’s airports many times since the 2015 Metrojet crash in Sinai, which killed all 224 passengers and crew members on board. Moscow banned direct flights to Red Sea resort towns following the crash, a ban that has remained in place ever since.

There’s still no word on when Moscow will allow direct travel to Red Sea destinations to resume. We were expecting to see flights return in June following a verbal agreement last month between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. Statements by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko called into question the June estimate for the restart of direct flights, telling reporters that when Russian flights resume will depend on the covid-19 pandemic.

The inspections come less than a week after some Egyptian and Russian investigative teams met in Cairo to discuss and “exchange information” about the deadly crash.

IN OTHER TOURISM NEWS- Air Arabia Egypt will begin operating four weekly flights between Sharm El Sheikh and Jeddah from 16 June, the budget carrier announced yesterday. The Air Arabia subsidiary’s announcement comes a few days after Emirati budget airline Flydubai said it will begin operating three weekly flights to Sharm El Sheikh as of 15 June.

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