EgyptAir losses exceed LE15 billion due to currency flotation: Aviation Minister

The flotation of the Egyptian pound augmented air carrier EgyptAir's already significant losses to more than LE15 billion, said Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy. However, he added, the company was able to add nine new airplanes to its fleet, despite the difficult circumstances.

He also said the company did not receiving any financial support from the government, unlike other companies in similar financial straits.

The minister highlighted the company’s steadfastness after the downing of the Russian plane over the Sinai peninsula in 2015. “Even after other airlines suspended their flights to Egypt, the company continued to transfer passengers to and from Cairo [for transfer onto international flights]," he said. "Those claiming poor management or evidence or squandering public money should take it to the public prosecution."

EgyptAir has 31,600 employees working on 62 airplanes, which is higher than international rates, Fathy said. On cutting down employee numbers, the minister said: “We all know that number is huge, but national duty makes it imperative for us not to take any measures, especially as they take their work seriously.”

The minister reiterated that the airline is going through a crisis, which has a big impact [on operations].

In response to demands on increasing flights to New Valley, the minister said: “There are huge economic developments in New Valley. We will assess the situation there and then decided how many flights can be operated,” he said.

The minister refuted conspiracies that aim to prevent the return direct Russian flights to Egypt: “Airport safety protocols and the return of Russian tourism are small issues in comparison to Egyptian-Russian ties."

He indicated that the ministry and Moscow are communication about return of Russian flights, adding that he prefers to not declare any proposed date for resuming until all measures between the two countries are finalized.

According to Fathy, there will be several steps taken toward this in the coming period. “We prefer to not talk about it before setting a date [for flight resumption],” he said adding that the safety measures at Egyptian airports have been mainly completed at Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada airports, as they are the most popular for Russian tourists.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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