Russia may ban tourist flights to Egypt


Russian tourism authorities said on Tuesday that they may have to ban tourist flights to Egypt in view of growing political tensions in the popular vacation destination.

Egypt has been engulfed in street violence since January 25, which has already claimed the lives of at least 150 people and injured some 4,000. The protesters want President Hosni Mubarak to resign and demand reforms.

“Unfortunately tourists continue to fly to Egyptian resorts in spite of warnings from the Foreign Ministry, the Sport and Tourism Ministry, the Federal Tourism Agency, tour operators and travel agencies,” the Russian tourism official said.

He said the Federal Air Transportation Agency might have to ban passenger registration for charter flights to Egypt.

Tour operators said on Tuesday that Russian tourists in Egypt had no plans to interrupt their vacations and leave the country hit by nationwide unrest.

The Russian association of tour operators said about 45,000 Russian tourists remained in Egypt. Another 30,000 Russians live in the resort area because they have bought real estate there or are working in tourism.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said evacuation of Russians was not under practical consideration yet. “The situation is certainly not simple, but we are closely following the developments,” Lukashevich said.

The Russian Embassy in Cairo has been keeping in touch with Russians in Egypt. Their health and lives are not in danger.