By Ahmed Saad
A number of private Egyptian airlines have announced intentions to launch new routes to and from Europe in a bid to boost the flow of tourists and increase revenues.
Almasria Universal Airlines, for instance, is planning to introduce a new flight linking Moscow to Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, among others, said Chairman Hassan Aziz. The airline has also set a goal to carry 150,000 passengers from Russia to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.
Targeting the Russian market is an important step toward increasing the flow of tourists to Egypt at a time when Egyptian airlines are experiencing sharp fall in passenger traffic, Aziz said. But the current political dispute between Russia and Ukraine in Crimea could delay plans.
The company has approached Alitalia about purchasing an Airbus 320 in an effort to improve its fleet’s efficiency, Aziz said.
Almasria recently sold two Airbus 320s to the China Bank because it was struggling to fill seats after it purchased the two passenger planes using operational funding. Negotiations to buy two Airbus 340s from EgyptAir have also failed.
Nesma Airlines’s chairman said the company is studying the possibility of opening fresh routes to Germany, Italy and Latvia.
Calling Germany a main exporter of tourists to Egypt, he said they would launch new flights to the German cities of Berlin, Munich and Hanover over the next few months.
Nesma Airlines is an Egyptian airline company with a Saudi Arabian joint venture (Nesma Group), with its main headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. The company’s main operational bases are Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, Hurghada International Airport, and Cairo International Airport.
An estimated 2.4 million Russians and 718,000 Germans visited Egypt last year.
The tourism sector in Egypt has shown signs that it could see a modest recovery in 2014, according to a recent report by Oxford Business Group.
In its report on the country’s tourism industry published in January, the group predicted that potential visitors would be more likely to travel to Egypt after more than 20 countries lifted travel alerts warning tourists to stay away. This will not, however, guarantee a surge in arrivals.
Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou said he expected 13.5 million tourists to visit Egypt in 2014, generating $11bn in revenues. If his expectations pan out, Oxford Business Group said it “would be the best result for the sector in three years.”