CAIRO: Uzbekistan Airways’ maiden flight from Tashkent arrived at Cairo International Airport Tuesday night, the first direct route linking North Africa and Central Asia.
On board was Uzbek Deputy Minister of Aviation Jawdat Saedov, who said that running the new route was one of the fruits of the Egypt-Uzbek summit, held in Cairo last April. Measures to open the new route were completed in two months instead of six, as per the request of Uzbek President Islam Karimov.
Uzbek Charge d Affaires Fathiddin Samaritdinov said that the flight returned to Tashkent carrying representatives from 15 Egyptian tourist companies, who will familiarize themselves with the tourist milieu in Uzbekistan in order to create tailored packages for tourists.
Before Uzbekistan gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, travelers had to go through a third country to come to Egypt, Saidov said.
Egypt Air for Ground Services Chairman Abdel Hamid Eid welcomed the maiden flight, hoping it would promote further cooperation between the two countries in the fields of economics, tourism and culture.
Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister Farghaly Taha welcomed the courageous step taken by Karimov to run the new route despite the economic cost the carrier would have to endure in the beginning.
Uzbek s national carrier will run two flights a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. The flight s duration is five and one-half hours. Cairo is the 45th destination on Uzbek Airway s network.
About 3,000 Uzbek tourists come to Egypt annually and more than 2,000 Uzbek students study at universities in Cairo.
With a fleet of more than 20 aircraft, the most advanced in Central Asia, Uzbekistan Airways is considered the biggest national carrier in the region, according to Saidov.
Egypt Air Company for Ground Services will provide the Uzbek carrier with maintenance and ground services.
By the end of the month Uzbekistan Airways will also run a new airline to Milan.