Flights between Russia and Egypt to resume in February: Moscow

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Moscow - Flights between Russia and Egypt will resume in February, the Russian transport ministry announced on Friday, after they were suspended in 2015 following an airliner bombing claimed by the Islamic State group.

Russian transport minister Maksim Sokolov and Egyptian civil aviation minister Sherif Fathy signed an agreement on aviation security that "is the first step for the resumption of flights between our countries," the Moscow ministry said.

Sokolov said flights between Moscow and Cairo would restart in February 2018 pending internal procedures, in comments echoed by the Egyptian minister.

Russia suspended flights to Egypt after ISIS said it had bombed a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from a Red Sea resort popular with Russian tourists, killing all 224 people on board.

The plane crash and subsequent suspension badly hit Egypt's tourism sector, which was already reeling from the political and security turmoil that followed the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

The drop in tourism revenues, a main source of foreign hard currency, exacerbated a dollar shortage in Egypt that in turn affected imports.

Russian tour operators said Friday's agreement was unlikely to immediately restart mass tourism from Russia to Egypt, with direct flights only to Cairo rather than resort destinations.

But it was a step towards a revival of the sector, they were quoted by news agencies as saying.

Last week Egypt and Russia signed a contract for the building of Egypt's first nuclear power plant, during a visit to Cairo by President Vladimir Putin.

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