Russia bans incoming EgyptAir flights starting Saturday: Russian state media

Russian aviation authorities have banned all EgyptAir flights to Russia starting Saturday, November 14, the state news agency Sputnik reported Friday.

Russian media said the ban was a precaution until the authorities were sure EgyptAir was secure, the BBC reported, pending investigations into the crash of a Russian passenger plane in the Sinai desert on October 31 that killed all 224 people aboard.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal said Friday that Egypt had not been officially notified of the ban, the Reuters-affiliated Aswat Masriya news site reported.

But EgyptAir said on its official Twitter account that the Moscow Domodedovo Airport had confirmed Saturday’s fight was cancelled.

“Communications are ongoing as to the situation of the remaining flights, and to know the reasons behind the decision, which has not yet officially been communicated to Egypt,” EgyptAir said. The state airline operates three direct flights per week between Cairo and Moscow.

The UK and several other European countries halted their flights in and out of Sharm el-Sheikh shortly after the fatal crash. Last week, the Kremlin halted all flights to Egypt on the advice of its security chief. Kazakhstan adopted the same measure on Friday, the Russian Interfax news agency reported.

Egypt has spoken out against such security measures, claiming they were not taken in concert with the Egyptian authorities. Since the crash, officials have consistently reiterated that the cause remains unknown, urging media and foreign governments alike to wait on the official report from an international investigation committee headed by Egypt.

In a press conference last week, committee head Ayman al-Moqadem said that all theories were still being considered. Possibilities currently on the table include a lithium battery overheating, engine failure or a bomb, Moqadem said, adding that there was still insufficient evidence to favor one scenario over another.

Several media reports claimed that a noise heard in the last second of the cockpit voice recording was consistent with a bomb exploding, but Moqadem said the sound had to be analyzed in a specialized laboratory before it could be authoritatively identified.

On Friday, Kamal said the last part of the cockpit recording had been sent abroad for spectral analysis.


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