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Sunday, 25 July 2021

Russian flights to the Red Sea to resume in 2 weeks

Russia to make its long-awaited return to Egypt on 9 August: Flights between Moscow and Egypt’s Red Sea resorts will resume on 9 August following a six-year hiatus, Russian news agency Tass reports, citing a statement by Russia’s anti-coronavirus crisis center on Friday.

What’s the plan? Five flights will run each week between Moscow and Sharm El Sheikh, and Moscow and Hurghada, according to the statement.

The number of flights could be increased later: Russian authorities could decide to increase the number of weekly flights after a Russian epidemiological team visits Egypt to assess the covid-19 situation, the statement said, without mentioning when the delegation would arrive in the country.

This comes two weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the six-year ban on direct flights between Russia and Red Sea resort towns, which was introduced for security reasons following the 2015 Metrojet crash in Sinai. This comes a week before Russia proposed to set up a Russian-Egyptian group that will carry out “round-the-clock monitoring” of the covid-19 situation in Egypt to protect Russian tourists.

High prices could limit Russian arrivals: Only regular flights will be permitted at first, said Maya Lomidze, executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia. The cost of regular flights is higher than charter flights, meaning that Egypt may not see a rapid surge in the number of Russian tourists, she said.

Egypt is expecting a large bounce: Deputy Tourism Minister Ghada Shalaby made separate statements that Egypt expects from 300k to 400k Russian tourists per month after lifting the ban.

This could help us achieve our tourism targets: The government wants to bring in between USD 6-9 bn in tourist revenues this year, up from USD 4 bn in 2020. Revenues reached USD 3.5-4 bn during the first six months of 2021 after 3.5 mn tourists visited the country. The return of Russia-Red Sea flights could eventually bring in some USD 3 bn in annual tourism revenues, Goldman Sachs has estimated.

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