Almasria Universal Airlines is considering establishing flight routes from Alexandria to Sharm El-Sheikh and Luxor during the current summer season and the coming winter at EGP 760 per person, according to the company’s chairman Hassan Aziz. He added that Almasria hopes for a presence in domestic tourism in the near future.
According to Aziz, domestic tourism in Egypt grows significantly during peak season holidays, especially to coastal areas on the Red Sea as well as South Sinai and Alexandria. This fact motivates Almasria to offer flights to these areas.
Almasria hopes to transport 700,000 passengers via its flights throughout 2014, compared to 400,000 passengers last year, Aziz said.
Almasria is a private Egyptian airline headquartered in Cairo. Alexandria International Airport forms a hub for company operations, along with Luxor International Airport and Assiut International Airport.
Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal stated that the ministry will provide flights costing no more than EGP 800 per person to tourist areas in Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh, and Luxor, and flights to distant coastal areas will be priced around EGP 1,200 per person.
According to Adel Rady, Chairman of the Tourism Investors Association in Marsa Alam, a lack of affordable flights according to an Egyptian’s income is one of the biggest obstacles hindering domestic tourism.
Rady said that few Egyptians visit Marsa Alam despite the affordable price of accommodation in the area. “The reason is the high cost of transportation,” he said.
Ahmed Balbaa, Chairman of the Tourism Committee of the Businessmen’s Association reiterated this viewpoint: “It does not make sense that the cost of transportation for a family of three or four is over EGP 6,000. These prices will make them reluctant to visit tourist areas.”
According to Rady, occupancies will increase to over 80% if flights are offered at affordable rates for Egyptians, which will help speed up recovery.
Egypt’s tourism revenues declined to $5.9bn last year, down 41% from 2012.
Samy Soliman, Chairman of the Tourism Investors Association in Nuweiba-Taba, called for flights between Cairo and Taba to be re-introduced with intensive marketing efforts so that the route is not cancelled again.
The Ministries of Tourism and Aviation, in collaboration with the Investors Association in the region, launched the flights in 2012, but the service was cancelled due to low turnout.
According to Soliman, “Internal tourism will revive the region, especially in light of the low traffic that has marked the past three years.”
Investments in the region exceed EGP 15bn, and according to Soliman, “increasing occupancies will allow these investments to be maintained, and also generate employment opportunities and protect national security in border areas.”