EgyptAir is expected to resume flights to Moscow on April 12, over two years after air travel was halted between Egypt and Russia in the wake of the downing of a Russian plane in Sinai in late 2015, according to the official state Middle East News Agency (MENA).
Safwat Mosallam, the CEO and chairperson of the EgyptAir Holding Company, told MENA on Friday morning that the flagship airline would operate three flights per week, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The news follows the Russian state airline Aeroflot’s Tuesday announcement that it would resume flights to Egypt on April 11, after “a substantial increase in security measures” in Egypt.
Aeroflot plans to charter regular flights to Cairo on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, with return flights on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The carrier will run daily flights between June 2 and June 12 to meet an expected increase in demand during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
In January, EgyptAir reported that Aeroflot had informed the company that flights to Cairo would resume in February, but contrary to the Egyptian company’s claims, Aeroflot CEO Vitaly Savelyev said flights would only resume after the signing of further security protocols. Savelyev did not clarify what he meant by this, or how they would relate to a similar agreement signed in December.
At the start of this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to resume flights to Egypt, activating the December bilateral protocol agreement on security cooperation. At the time the initial protocol was signed, Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said that air travel between both countries should resume in February, after being approved by the Russian president.
The Russian government pulled all flights to Egypt and all Egyptian planes from Russian airspace over two years ago, after a Russian passenger jet was downed over the Sinai peninsula in October 2015, after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport, killing all 217 passengers and seven crew members on board.
While Egypt denied assertions that the crash was caused by a militant attack, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, said flights were halted because a 1 kg TNT bomb was detonated on the plane.