People, Travel

Egypt, Russia in Crisis Talks

Egypt, Russia in Crisis TalksEgypt, Russia in Crisis Talks

Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou revealed on Friday that Egypt and Russia are communicating to solve the “crisis” following the halting of EgyptAir flights to Moscow.

Zaazou told Ahram Arabic news website that the tourism, aviation and foreign ministries are communicating with the Russians to solve the crisis.

After Russia’s aviation agency Rosaviatsiya decided to halt EgyptAir flights from Cairo to Moscow, Egypt’s aviation minister issued a statement saying Egypt was not officially notified by Russian authorities and that Egypt is communicating on a high-level with Russia to understand the reasons behind the decision to halt flights.

Several countries have imposed flight bans over fears terrorists were responsible for the October 31 airplane crash in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 224 Russian tourists and crew.

The tourism minister expressed his surprise at the decision to halt EgyptAir flights to Moscow, describing it as “strange” timing.

EgyptAir cancelled its flight from Cairo to Moscow early on Saturday.

Zaazou said Russian-Egyptian relations are strong, as Moscow has been receiving EgyptAir flights for over 50 years.

He added that there is constant communication with the officials at the Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation and with trip coordinators.

According to Egypt’s State Information Service, 97 Russian companies work in tourism in Egypt, with investments of $56.5 million, which is around half of the size of Russian investments in Egypt. More than three million Russian tourists visited Egypt in 2014.

Zaazou said the ministry prepared a tourism campaign to promote Egyptian tourism in Russia, which will be launched following the removal of the freeze on flights by Russia.

  Loss of Revenue

According to the Egyptian official, Cairo will lose approximately $280 million every month until Moscow and London lift the flight suspensions.

Russian and British tourists accounted for two-thirds of tourism traffic to Sharm al-Sheikh, while Russians made up half the tourists visiting another Red Sea destination – Hurghada, Zazou told Reuters.

Zazou blamed the western media for the negative coverage of the plane crash, saying he planned a $5 million public relations campaign to promote Egypt in the UK and Russia.

Kremlin chief of staff, Sergey Ivanov, said on Tuesday that flights to Egypt have been halted for at least several months. According to him, it’s impossible for the government in Cairo to radically change the security system in a short time, RT reported.