Putin signs decree resuming flights with Cairo

Al Ahram

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree resuming air traffic with Cairo, Russia's state news agency Sputnik said on Thursday. Moscow grounded all civilian passenger flights to Egypt in 2015 over security concerns after a Russian A321 airbus crashed in Sinai shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh. All 224 people on board were killed in the crash.

Last month, President Vladimir Putin met with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo to sign a deal for a nuclear power plant and discuss resuming flights. Days later, Egypt’s aviation minister traveled to Moscow to sign a protocol deal to allow the resumption of the air traffic and sign an aviation security protocol.

The downing of the Russian flight has dealt a blow to Egypt's tourism industry, a major source of hard currency, with tourist numbers dropping by some 50 percent in the first half of 2016 year-on-year.

Russians formerly made up the largest single tourist group in Egypt, contributing to about a fifth of foreign vacationers in the country as of 2015, according to official data.