The return of the Ruskies: The Charter Flights
Russian charter flights are back: Moscow resumed charter flights between Russia and Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh yesterday, Russia Today reports. The return of charter flights, which Russia announced last month, comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin finally lifted his country’s six-year ban on direct flights between Russia and Egypt’s Red Sea destinations.
Reminder: Charter flights differ from regular “commercial” flights offered by airlines. Commercial flights are regularly scheduled hops on which, for example, you book your own seat with EgyptAir from Cairo to Toronto. These flights operate on a set schedule and will typically abide by the schedule regardless of how many seats are full. Charter flights see one person or group (typically tour operators) booking out an entire airplane for a specific purpose, and then setting the departure time based on an individual agreement with the airline.
The resumption of charter flights is expected to bring in more tourists: Charter flights shave some 20% off the cost of travel, bringing the total cost of a one-week trip to Egypt to an estimated USD 210-365, according to industry estimates.
And even better, they’re resuming at the same time as Russians are getting a long break of paid “non-working days” due to the country’s worsening covid-19 situation, which the Association of Tour Operators of Russia predicted would drive tourist arrivals in Hurghada and Sharm.
The return of direct charter flights will bring much needed FX inflows for Egypt: The full resumption of Russian flights to Egypt could generate some USD 3 bn in annual tourism revenues, Goldman Sachs previously estimated. But Tourism Ministry estimates indicate that we’re not going to lock down the full amount this year: An estimated 1 mn Russian tourists could arrive in Egypt this year, which would mean that we’ll end the year with just USD 1 bn in Russian tourism revenues.