Cairo: Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation Sharif Fathi Thursday left for Moscow to sign a pact with Russian transport authorities on resuming Russian flights that has been halted since the fatal crash of a Russian passenger plane in late 2015.
The visit comes three days after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a short trip Cairo where he said that his country is willing for the flight resumption soon.
Fathi is accompanied by a team of airport security and civil aviation officials, Egyptian aviation sources said.
The sources expected direct flights to restart in February first between Cairo and Moscow and later to Egypt’s resorts of Sharm Al Shaikh and Hurghada—two key holiday spots popular with Russian tourists.
In October, 2015, a Russian passenger plane went down in Egypt’s volatile Sinai, killing all the 224 people on board. In the aftermath, Russia halted all flights to Egypt, dealing a hard blow to the country’s tourism, a key earner for the Egyptian economy.
The terrorist Daesh group claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft, allegedly by placing a bomb on board.
Egypt has since boosted security at its airports in an attempt to coax Russia into allowing its nationals back to Egypt. Russia has since sent several several teams to check security at the Egyptian airports.
“Egypt has made enormous efforts in order to upgrade level of security at its airports,” Putin said in Cairo on Monday amid increasing cooperation between his country and Egypt in different fields.
Around 3.1 million Russians visited Egypt in 2014, according to official Egyptian figures.
Egypt has reportedly incurred losses of more than 1 billion dollars as a result of halting Russian flights to the country.
Egypt’s tourism industry was hard hit by the unrest that followed the 2011 uprising. The industry has shown signs of recovery in recent months after several countries lifted warnings against travelling to Egypt.