A Russian Consulate was inaugurated in Hurghada on Sunday, coinciding with the Red Sea Governorate National Day celebrations. According to Russia Today, the consulate has been operating since January 12.
The inauguration follows a six-day visit by a Russian security delegation which inspected security procedures at the Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh airports in preparation for the return of Russian flights to Egypt. The Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry issued a statement claiming that the delegation, which departed on January 16, was pleased with both the new security procedures and continued collaboration between the two parties.
Flights from Russia have been suspended since the downing of a Russian plane over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, which killed all 224 staff and passengers.
Russia Today reports that the Russian government first announced its decision to open the consulate in November last year, and while the office is currently partially functional it is expected to be fully operational by February.
During a meeting with the Russian delegation, Red Sea Governor Ahmed Abdallah said that the new consulate will facilitate the prompt return of Russian tourists to Egypt.
A Source at the Civil Aviation Ministry told Mada Masr on Sunday that the implementation of security precautions required for the resumption of Russian flights is ongoing. The latest demand is the installation of a retinal scanning system for airport employees, which the source affirmed will be be carried out soon.
According to Russia Today further conditions include more rigorous security checks for passengers, including fingerprint scans, and video monitoring of the airport.
The Civil Aviation Ministry reported a similar visit by a British delegation, headed by the United Kingdom’s State Security Minister Ben Wallace earlier in January, during which the resumption of flights from the UK to Sharm el-Sheikh was discussed.
The Egyptian government has made several visits to Russia in an attempt to advocate the safety of Egyptian airports and negotiate the return of flights. The suspension has had a devastating effect on Egypt’s struggling tourism sector. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics announced in September that the number of tourists coming to Egypt in the first half of 2016 decreased by 51.2 percent from the previous year, primarily due to the drop in tourists coming from Russia, Britain and Germany following the crash.