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Russia, Egypt flights to resume in April

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows an Egyptair Airbus 320.

Egypt and Russia have set dates in April for the resumption of flights between the two capitals, more than two-and-half years after they were suspended following the bombing of a Russian charter tourist jet over the Sinai.

Egypt's national carrier EgyptAir said on Friday it plans to resume direct flights between Cairo and Moscow after air traffic was stopped in October 2015.

Head of EgyptAir Holding Safwat Musallam said on Friday the carrier would operate three Cairo-Moscow flights a week.

The announcement came after Russia’s biggest airline Aeroflot said on Tuesday it would restart flights to Cairo on April 11. EgyptAir flights are set to resume the following day.

The Russian flagship carrier said it would resume the flights after Egypt had met its demands for a “substantial increase in security measures.”

Aeroflot added that it plans to have the same number of flights a week from Moscow to Cairo, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays but will run extra services during the football World Cup, to be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15.

Both companies suspended the route after an Airbus A321, run by Russia’s Kogalymavia airline, crashed in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on October 31, leaving all the 224 people – mostly Russians – on board dead.

The Sinai bombing dealt a huge blow to Egypt’s tourism industry.

Although an affiliate of the Daesh terrorist group in Egypt claimed responsibility for the crash, Russia and Egypt have been hesitant to draw direct connections between the deadly incident and the militant group wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq.

The Russian federal security service has announced that a bomb had gone off on the Russian aircraft, bringing the plane down.  

Egypt has disputed Russia’s account, saying its probe has yet to find any evidence of criminal action.

The Egyptian cabinet in November 2015 refrained from endorsing Moscow’s conclusions.

The executive director of Russia’s Interstate Aviation Commission said in November 2015 that the Russian aircraft broke up in the air before going down.

Victor Sorochenko said, “The destruction [of the plane] happened in the air and the fragments scattered over a large area (around 20 square kilometers).”

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The Kremlin in November 2017 said Russia and Egypt are set to finalize a deal allowing both countries to use each other's air space and air bases for their military aircraft.

The draft agreement, signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on November 28, instructed the Russian Defense Ministry to hold negotiations with the Egyptian military to finalize the agreement.

Under the deal, Russian and Egyptian military aircraft would be allowed to fly in each other's air space and use one another’s airfields by giving a five-day advance notice.

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