CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi returned from Saudi Arabia via the Sharm el-Sheikh airport, rather than Cairo Airport Wednesday, to reassure the public about the safety of the local airports.
Sisi visits the resort town 11 days after a Russian plane crashed 23 minutes after taking off from the airport Oct. 31, killing all 224 persons on board.
The president stated that the security of all Egyptian airports had been reviewed in the past months, and said that the Russian announcement to halt flights before an investigation into the cause of the crash had been concluded was “against the interests of all parties.”
Sisi added that the “pressures on Egypt will not end because it seeks success and development.”
A 47-member Egyptian and international investigation team was deployed to the crash site last week, and announced Saturday that the debris patterns of the crash were consistent with an “in-flight break-up,” but declined to name the cause of the break-up, but did say that a loud noise was heard in the last second of the black box.
Reuters published a report Sunday anonymously quoting a member of the investigating team who indicated that it is “90 percent sure” the noise heard in the final second of a cockpit recorder on the ill-fated plane was “an explosion caused by a bomb.” The investigation team stated Monday that any information or news published by media outlets or news agencies attributed to members of the investigating team was “incorrect and unreliable,” and urged media wait for its official report.
“The lights of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada will not be turned off as long as Egyptians are here,” Sisi said, adding that the government would support the tourism sector.
Russia tops countries sending tourists to Egypt, with around 3 million visiting the country during 2014; the United Kingdom comes in second place.
During August 2015, a total of 231,000 Russian tourists visited Egypt, according to a monthly report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS.)
Amid fears of the current evacuations would affect the Europeans’ closest destination city, Sharm el-Sheikh, a number of initiatives promoting tourism in Egypt surfaced calling on Egyptians to spend their vacations in the resort.