Russian minister says talk about resumption of flights to Egypt 'premature' - agency

Friday 30-09-2016 03:31 PM

An Egyptian man puts flowers near debris at the crash site of a Russian airliner in al-Hasanah area at El Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO, Sept. 30 (Aswat Masriya) - Russian transport minister said that it is "premature" to talk about resumption of flights to Egypt, Russian private news agency Interfax reported on Friday.

Minister Maksim Sokolov said that reports about resumption of flights in October are "rumors".

The statements were made days after a number of Russian media outlets , citing unnamed sources, reported that flights between Russia and Egypt may be resumed in October.

The minister added that an aviation safety agreement between Egypt and Russia "may be" signed before the end of the year.  

He also said Russia expects an invitation in the near future from Cairo to inspect Egyptian airports as Russian transportation officials plan a minimum of one more  visit to Egypt to inspect airports.   

Moscow had suspended all flights to Egypt about 11 months ago, in the wake of a Russian airliner crash in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, as it was heading from the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg in Russia.

The crash left all 224 people on board dead.

Russia believes that a "terrorist act" was behind the crash, while Egypt denies the claim, maintaining that there is no evidence yet.

Since the crash, Russia has sent several delegations to inspect security measures in Egyptian airports, which Egyptian officials continued to describe as in line with "international standards."

On Tuesday, Russian officials including Sokolov met with Egypt's Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy in Cairo.

In a statement later on the same day, the ministry said it is considering putting forth an agreement between Egypt and Russia that includes the security measures that will be followed in case flights between the two countries are resumed.

Egypt’s tourism industry, a vital source of foreign currency, has been hit hard since the plane crash.

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