CAIRO — Russia resumes flights to Egyptian Red Sea resorts, ending a ban that had lasted almost six years following the bombing of a Russian airliner that killed all 224 people onboard.
The local branch of the Islamic State jihadist group said it downed the plane over Sinai in October 2015, shortly after the aircraft took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. At the time, Russian officials insisted that security procedures at Egyptian airports were insufficient.
Early this morning, EgyptAir flight MS724 took off from Moscow with 300 tourists. Hours later, the Airbus A300-330 landed in Hurghada, a popular Red Sea destination, Egypt’s national carrier says in a statement.
The Russian plane was welcomed by a ceremonial “water salute” on touchdown and Russian tourists, most of them wearing facemasks, were greeted with flowers and balloons upon disembarking.
The statement says EgyptAir will operate seven flights from the Russian capital to Hurghada and Sham el-Sheikh, on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. The first EgyptAir flight from Moscow to Sharm el-Sheikh is scheduled for tomorrow, it says.
Egypt’s envoy to Russia, Ihab Nasr, told a local TV station yesterday that there would be 20 direct flights between Moscow and the two Red Sea resorts every week, and that Egyptian and Russian officials were discussing additional flights.
The Russian state aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, has cleared eight Russian airlines to operate flights to Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh from 43 cities across Russia. However, the list does not include St. Petersburg, the destination of the doomed Russian airliner downed over Sinai.