Flights between Russia and Egypt are reportedly expected to resume in March due to technical issues, thwarting high hopes on the Egyptian side that the Russian tourists would come back to Egypt as soon as possible.
State-owned Russian news agency TASS reported a source in Cairo close to the Russian inspections of Egyptian airports as saying that the biometric equipment is not functioning yet and is still being installed at Cairo International Airport.
According to the source, after the completion of all these procedures, Moscow and Cairo will sign an agreement on aviation security.
"And only after that, we will talk about the timing of flight resumption. In the best case, we can expect it by the end of February, and most likely in March," TASS quoted the source as saying.
The Consul General of Russia in Hurghada, Jamshed Boltaev, said Sunday that he expects Russian tourism to return to Egypt within a month. Boltaev had expressed optimism since all tourism facilities appeared ready to receive Russians, adding that this return will be gradual.
Egypt has been battling to recover the badly-affected tourism sector over the course of 2016, after years of political turmoil since the 25 January uprising. This was exacerbated by the downing of the Russian plane in October 2015, which killed all 224 passengers and crew on board, most of them Russian tourists.
Different countries have demanded certain security measures be implemented in Egyptian airports for the resumption of direct flights to be considered.
Russia halted all flights with Egypt after 2015 incident. Since then, Egypt has received several Russian experts who inspected the security methods at Egyptian airports.
The Egyptian government has invited security experts from several nations to inspect the security arrangements, while also making a deal with British security firm Control Risks for an overhaul of airport security operations.
Russia has laid down some conditions for Egypt-bound flights to run again.
Among the Russian requests is a biometric automatic control systems in an isolated area dedicated to the arrival and departure of Russian tourists; as well as the monitoring of luggage and restaurants; and the testing of flights and surveillance systems within the airport perimeter.