Russian Airlines Return To Egypt After Several Years Of Restrictions

After six years of suspended flights from Russia to Egyptian charter destinations, air traffic is back online. Part of the state-owned Aeroflot Group, Rossiya Russian Airlines has resumed flights from Moscow Sheremetyevo to popular Red Sea tourist resorts Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh – operated by fully-packed Boeing 747s.

Rossiya 747
Rossiya is operating its Boeing 747s on the recently reinstated services to Red Sea leisure destinations. Photo: Getty Images

Five weekly departures

Rossiya’s Egypt services are operated in collaboration with Biblio-Globus, Russia’s largest charter tour operator. Flights will depart five times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

What’s more, they will be operated by the airline’s Boeing 747-400s, seating 522 passengers – 12 in business and 512 in economy. Rossiya, as one of the few airlines in the world, still regularly operates its jumbo quadjets. It has a fleet of nine, two of which are currently parked, with an average age of 21.5 years.

They are deployed on leisure routes to Crimea, Cyprus, and Turkey (and now Egypt). Getting on one of these flights could be one of your safest bets if you would like to fly on the Queen of the Skies again. Although Lufthansa has just retrieved a 747-400 from storage.

The services to Egypt appear to already be a huge success. According to RIA Novosti, load factors for the first flights taking off on Monday, August 9th, were 100%.

Rossiya Airlines' Boeing 747-400 EI-XLJ lands in Vladivostok
Rossiya is one of the few passenger airlines to still actively operate the 747. Photo: Getty Images

Much-anticipated tourism return

This is perhaps not surprising as prior to the shut-down of direct flights in 2015, about one million Russian tourists visited Egyptian charter destinations through Biblio-Globus services alone. Several employees at the hotels have learned Russian, and signs and menus can be found written in Cyrillic.

“The resumption of scheduled service to the Red Sea resorts is a long-awaited event for many of our citizens who prefer hot climates for recreation or are fond of diving. Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh will become an organic addition to the traditional cities of the Black Sea coast. All flights are performed in compliance with high standards of aviation and epidemiological safety,” a spokesperson for Rossiya Russian Airlines said in a statement.

Russian Airlines Return To Egypt After Several Years Of Restrictions
Flights between Russia and Egyptian leisure destinations were suspended after the bombing of Metrojet’s A321 registered EI-ETJ. Photo: Colin Cooke Photo via Flickr

Flight 9268

The ban first came into effect in October 2015, following the crash of an aircraft from now-defunct Russian carrier Metrojet. One of the airline’s Airbus A321s was operating Flight 9268 when it was destroyed by a bomb shortly after take-off from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport for Saint Petersburg.

The Sinai branch of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist act that claimed the life of 217 passengers and seven crew members. It is the deadliest air disaster both in Russian aviation and in the airspace of Egypt. As a result of the attack, Russian airlines were forbidden from operating to Egypt, with the exception of regularly scheduled flights to Cairo. President Putin officially lifted the ban at the beginning of July this year.

Egypt’s Deputy Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ahmed Youssef, assures travelers that the security at local airports has seen a significant upgrade since the 2015 bombing. RIA Novosti quoted him as saying,

“After the catastrophe in the sky over Sinai, the security system was completely replaced both at the airport and in the resorts of Egypt. CCTV cameras are installed everywhere. Employees have undergone retraining.”

Would you book a charter flight to get to fly on the Queen of the Skies again? Leave a comment below and let us know.