Russia mulls support to tour firms after Egypt flights suspension

November 11, 2015 7:55 am 

MOSCOW, Nov. 10 — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that the government will support the tourism industry hurt by the suspension of flights to Egypt, warning that resumption of tours will not come soon.

"It will not be a short period. Besides the return of our citizens, ensuring the safety of vacations in egypt will probably take time," Medvedev said at a meeting with his deputies.

He ordered an assessment of the losses inflicted by the suspension of flights and asked for proposals on this basis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered the suspension of all of the country's scheduled flights to egypt amid rising speculation that terrorist attacks were possibly behind the Oct. 31 crash of a Russian passenger jet.

The Airbus A321, heading for Russia's second-largest city St. Petersburg, crashed on Oct. 31 shortly after takeoff from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people, mostly Russians, on board. Investigation of the cause is under way.

On Monday, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, which groups 50 major national travel agencies, asked the government to compensate the damage caused by the suspension of trips, as many tourists with prepaid tours were asking for full refunds, which tour operators were unable to offer.

"If the ban on flights to Egypt lasts more than two or three months, the damage to the tourism business may hit USD200 million," the association said in a statement.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who had been appointed to oversee the safe evacuation of Russian tourists from Egypt, was scheduled to discuss measures of state support with the tourism association on Tuesday.

Moscow has sent special flights to bring home about 80,000 tourists stranded in Egypt, while empty planes have been organized to carry their luggage separately.

According to Dvorkovich, some 25,000 passengers have returned to Russia from Egypt over the weekend, and the evacuation is expected to finish within two weeks. (PNA/Xinhua)

JBP/EBP

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