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Thursday, 3 June 2021

Just fly, already

Direct Russian flights to Red Sea destinations may resume in the “near future,” once Russian authorities add the “finishing touches” to the plan, which will finally end the six-year flight ban, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said at a press conference yesterday, Tass reports.

We’re hoping that “near future” means “June”, as Putin originally agreed with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in April.

But at the moment the best we can hope for is a summer return: The minister did give a hint that we could be looking at the plans being delayed during the presser. When asked by reporters whether flights will return in the summer, Bogdanoff replied with “I think so.

The nation’s talking heads might have gotten a bit carried away with this last night, taking this to mean “Flights are returning this summer.” Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 11:16) and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 9:06) both had the story last night.

But this is far from certain, especially given Putin’s press secretary said on Tuesday that no date has been set for their return.In past years we’ve seen repeated delays in the resumption of direct flights to the Red Sea, initially due to security concerns and more recently because of a resurgence of covid-19 cases.

Egypt is anxious to finally put the 2015 Metrojet crash behind it and welcome Russians back to its shores, not least because of the blow suffered by its tourism sector due to covid. It has been estimated that Russian tourists alone used to bring USD 3.5 bn in revenues.

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