The Russian government has given permission for flights to resume to Egypt after two-year hiatus. Commercial flights to the North African nation were banned after a Russian charter plane flying from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in the Sinai desert in 2015، killing all 224 passengers and crew on board; it is alleged that the jet was brought down by an explosive device.
IS claimed responsibility for the attack، but in spite of an extensive investigation، no evidence has been found. Following the disaster، the UK suspended all flights to Sharm el Sheikh amid concerns over the airport’s security practices. In spite of terrorist attacks elsewhere in the region، the Foreign Office does not currently advise against travel to the Red Sea resort itself. British tourists keen to support its beleaguered tourist industry must either fly indirectly or travel overland. The Egyptian government has since invested around £20m to raise airport security standards، which has now satisfied the Russian government’s requirements. Egyptair will recommence flights between Cairo and Moscow next month and it is hoped that flights to Sharm el Sheikh will resume soon.
UK director of the Egyptian State Tourist Authority Amr El-Ezabi، said “We are very pleased that flights between Egypt and Russia will now resume، as it’s a clear sign of the confidence that the Russian government has in the aviation and airport security standards that Egypt has introduced. We hope this will encourage flights back to Sharm el Sheikh from the UK.” A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said that the UK’s policy on flights to Sharm el Sheikh remains the same but is under regular review. The country’s tourist industry has suffered from a series of terrorist incidents in recent years. Prior to 2015، Sharm el Sheikh was one of its busiest resorts، attracting visitors with its sunshine، coastline and superlative diving opportunities. However، visitor numbers have plummeted، forcing many local businesses to close. Around 918،000 British visitors travelled to Egypt in 2014، a figure that dropped to 230،000 in the aftermath of the attack and rose slightly to 289،000 last year.