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Russian Transport Ministry does not confirm date of Russian air experts visit to Egypt

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said earlier on Monday that the visit was expected on August 29

MOSCOW, August 22. /TASS/. The Russian Transport Ministry has not confirmed the date of the Russian air experts’ visit to Egypt that was announced earlier on Monday by Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy.

"The date of the visit will be determined after we receive from the Egyptian side a confirmation that it has fulfilled all our demands," the ministry press service told TASS.

Fathy said earlier on Monday that the visit was expected on August 29.

According to him, the plan "envisages visits of several delegations of Russian experts who will inspect tourist facilities, including resort hotels, as well as will get acquainted with the latest security measures at Egyptian airports and the recent data of the commission" investigating the causes of the A321 passenger plane crash in Sinai in October 2015. On August 29, he said, Cairo expects the arrival of a delegation of experts from Russia who will come to the capital of Egypt at the invitation of the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry. They will conduct another inspection of Egypt’s airports. The Egyptian authorities expect the Russian government to make a decision on the expediency of resuming passenger flights to Egypt based on the commission findings. In addition, the minister said, a large delegation from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is expected to arrive in Egypt at the end of the year for an annual inspection.

"The ministry is ready to take measures to ensure security of both the passengers and air traffic in Egypt and in the region, provided that they do not affect the country’s sovereignty", Fathy said. He also once again drew attention to the fact that "the Russian side has not put forward any demands to Cairo regarding offering separate rooms for the Russians at the airports."

The A321 belonging to the Russian carrier, Kogalymavia was en route from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt to St. Petersburg in Russia when it crashed over the Sinai Peninsula early on October 31. All 224 people onboard, including 217 passengers and the seven-member crew, were killed. This crash was the worst in the history of Russia’s aviation. After that crash Russia suspended all flights to Egypt. On November 17, at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov said that the crash had been caused by a terrorist act. In November 2015, it was announced that the crash had been caused by an act of terror committed by means of a home-made explosive device with a yield of up to one kilogram of TNT. The Russian transport minister said that air service will resume after Egypt fully ensures security at airports. Russia’s key requirements for resuming flights to Egypt are the issues of using an automated biometric control access system and multi-level luggage control at Egyptian airports, and problems of in-flight meals control and video surveillance along airports’ perimeter.

The investigation commission has not yet submitted a final report on the causes of the crash, but one of the dominant versions is a terrorist attack. As a result of the air service suspension the Egyptian tourism industry has suffered huge losses, as the influx of tourists has declined twofold, mainly due to the absence of Russians.