Royal Dutch Airlines KLM announced that it will temporarily suspend flights to Cairo starting January 8 “for economic reasons” on Wednesday.
“The devaluation of the Egyptian pound and the decision of the Central Bank of Egypt to impose restrictions on the transfer of foreign currency out of Egypt have a negative impact on results of KLM,” the statement said.
It stated that the final flight to Cairo “for the foreseeable future” will depart from Amsterdam to Cairo on January 6, and return from Cairo to Amsterdam on January 7, 2017.
KLM-Air France will continue to operate its flights between Cairo and Paris through AirFrance, with six flights per week.
Passengers who have booked KLM flights after January 8 will be rebooked on other flights, KLM promised.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned Egypt in a statement in August that it “risks damaging its aviation industry if it continues to block the release of hundreds of millions of dollars owed to foreign airlines.” Egypt owed US$250 million worth of local ticket sales to international airlines, IATA told Gulf News — down from the $291 million it owed in June.
In August Cairo International Airport cancelled a flight to the Saudi Red Sea port of Yanbu due to under booking, and five flights were delayed due to operation obstacles, according to privately owned daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. This pattern has been repeated in the past few weeks.
The IATA report also came in the wake of the crash of an EgyptAir flight headed to Cairo from Paris in May, which left all 66 people on board dead.
A Russian aircraft also crashed last year over Sinai after departing from Sharm al-Shiekh International Airport, leading to Russian and British airlines suspending flights to Sharm al-Shiekh, with allegations that a terrorist act was likely behind the crash.
On Tuesday, Russia Today’s Arabic website reported that investigators managed to locate where a bomb was planted in the aircraft.
Sources in Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry, however, said that investigations are still ongoing, and that the investigations committee has not come to its final conclusions on the reasons for the crash.
In related news, the Gulf-based Landmark Group said in a statement last week that it will shut down three of its retail stores — Center Point, Max and Home Center — in Alexandria in January, due to a “complex business climate in Egypt.”