A top Kremlin official has said that Russia’s ban on Egypt-bound flights will likely remain for ‘several months.’ The British FM said the UK took a similar decision after examining footage from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said on Tuesday that a flight ban to Egypt will likely remain in place for several months. Authorities suspect that a bomb brought down the Russian passenger flight 9268 on October 31, killing all 224 people on board.
“It’s for a long time. For how long, I can’t say, but I think for several months, at least,” Ivanov said.
“To be honest, we stopped flights to Egypt not knowing the final version (of the crash), but we did this as a preventative measure, as a precaution,” Ivanov noted.
The Russian official said that security protocols at Egyptian airports needed to be improved, not only at Sharm el-Sheikh but “those places where Russian planes fly,” such as the capital Cairo and resort town Hurghada. The move is likely to impact Egypt’s economy, which heavily relies on the country’s tourism industry.
Egypt’s security amiss
Kremlin’s Ivanov added that it would be an impossible task for Egyptian authorities to revamp security within a month, stressing that efforts needed to be taken to bring standards up to a sufficient level.
More than 25,000 Russian tourists – stranded in the country when Russia suspended flights to Egypt – have left the country with carry-on luggage.
Cargo jets operated by Russia’s Emergency Services Ministry were charged with transporting larger luggage amid fears of a possible attack.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters on Tuesday that after reviewing security footage at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport, the UK decided to ban flights to the airport.
“They looked back on CCTV footage of the search areas and things over the previous couple of days,” Hammond said.
“On the basis of what we saw, we decided that we had to stop flying until we’d sorted out, until the Egyptians had sorted it out.”
The downed aircraft was claimed as an attack by a Sinai-based militant group affiliated with the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” group.
In September, Russia launched airstrikes against the group in Syria, in a move Western states consider a ploy to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
ls/jm (AFP, dpa)