Russia politics: Quick View - Russia agrees to resume flights to Cairo

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Economist Intelligence Unit
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The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has signed an executive order allowing for the resumption of flights between Russian airports and Cairo International Airport.


The order took the form of an amendment to a decree suspending flights from Russia to all Egyptian airports following the downing of a Russian charter airliner in October 2015 in a suspected terrorist bomb attack. The plane crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 people on board, shortly after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh.

The agreement follows months of discussions between Egyptian and Russian officials about security procedures and systems in Egyptian airports. Mr Putin visited Egypt on December 11th, and assurances were made at that time by Russian officials that flights would resume in early 2018. The first flights to Cairo are expected to start in February, and talks are scheduled to be held in April on arrangements to restart services to other airports, the most important of which will be Sharm el-Sheikh, a popular Red Sea resort on the coast of South Sinai that was most affected by the Russian order to suspend direct flights to Egypt in 2015.

The resumption of flights from Russia to Cairo will provide a boost to the tourism sector, although Russian visitors have historically tended to focus on resorts such as Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada. In the wake of the Sinai crash, tourist arrivals fell from an average of about 850,000 a month to about 450,000 a month until a modest recovery got under way in early 2017. According to the most recent data from CAPMAS, the Egyptian state statistics agency, tourist arrivals averaged almost 800,000 per month between July and October 2017. Following the flotation of the Egyptian pound in late 2016, Egypt has become a particularly cheap destination, compared with other countries in the region. Tourism revenue fell to US$2.7bn in 2016, compared with US$6.1bn in 2015. It increased steadily during 2017, reaching US$5.5bn by the end of the third quarter.

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