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Russian Association of Tour Operators refutes reports on ban of flights to other countries

November 11, 2015, 14:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Such statements should be regarded as mere speculation aimed at creating panic, ATOR Executive Director Maya Lomidze says

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© Alexandr Sherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, November 11. /TASS/. The Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) has dismissed as speculation reports on banning flights to other countries.

"In my opinion, raising the issue is speculation, because one needs to have serious grounds to make such statements. Since there are no premises whatsoever for this at the moment, I believe such statement should be regarded as mere speculation aimed at creating panic," ATOR Executive Director Maya Lomidze said on Wednesday.

Referring to Egypt, she noted that so far it was unclear when air communication with the country could be resumed. "At the moment it is clear that it’s uncertain, it is likely to be an indefinitely long period of time," she said.

Lomidze recalled that "over the past few years flights to Egypt had been banned several times, but it is the presidential decree for the first time, which creates different legal conditions for consumers." "For the first time the losses of the tourism industry are addressed at the government level," she said.

She noted that "Egypt, even under the conditions of economic instability, was the cheapest and year-round tourist destination." "2011 and 2013 showed that there was no real alternative to Egypt in terms of prices and amenities," she said.

On November 6, the Russian president agreed with the recommendations of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) to suspend air service with Egypt until the causes of the A321 plane crash were identified. According to presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, flights to Egypt will be suspended until proper level of security is ensured. Putin also issued instructions to help Russians vacationing in Egypt return home.

An A321 passenger jet of Russia’s Kogalymavia air carrier (flight 9268) bound to St. Petersburg crashed on October 31 some 30 minutes after the takeoff from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh.

It fell down 100 kilometers south of the administrative center of North Sinai Governorate, the city of Al-Arish. The plane was carrying 217 passengers and seven crew members. There were four Ukrainian and one Belarusian nationals among the passengers. None of them survived.

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