Cairo Airport’s adoption of open-skies policy expected to generate $12bn annually: Yousry Abdel Wahab

Abdel Razek Al-Shuwekhi
6 Min Read
head of the private aviation association, Youssry Abdel Wahab

Opening skies in Cairo International Airport will achieve revenues of nearly $12bn annually for the airport alone, excluding the spending of inbound visitors to the hotels of Cairo, according to head of the private aviation association, Youssry Abdel Wahab.

Inan interview with Daily News Egypt, Abdel Wahab said Egypt’s decision to protect EgyptAir is forestalling the increase revenue. With the adoption of the new policy, the Egyptian government can activate the Egyptian economy, generate new work opportunities, and establish new projects using Cairo International Airport.

The tourism sector has suffered from an aviation capacity shortfall in light of the charter flights companies rerouting their destinations to avoid Egypt after the Russian plane accident. What could be the solution?

Since the accident in October, the tourism sector has suffered a suffocating crisis that requires thinking of new mechanisms. We should study others’ experiences when we go through problems in order to know what has been done in similar situations.

The Egyptian government has instituted measures to protect and secure the national EgyptAir airline.  However, the airline continues to suffer losses and has erodedits capital base. Does it make sense to continue to protect EgyptAir?

The sky in Cairo is open to different aviation companies in order to generate an average of $12bn in additional revenue for the Ministry of Civil Aviation

How did you estimate these revenues?

We have looked to how Dubai was capable of increasing its revenues by creating a first-class tourism community based an open-skies policy.

If we implement the open-skies policy in Cairo International Airport, we will have at least 200 flights passing through an Egyptian transport centre on a daily basis. Each flight will carry a minimum of 300 passengers, who will spend an average of one week in Cairo’s hotels or other locations in Egypt.

Hurghada Airport is another successful example of an open-skies policy. Before it was opened to all aviation companies, the airport was hardly able to attract 20,000 tourists. However, since the change in policy, the airport now attracts approximately 10 million tourists each year, supporting the Red Sea tourism sector.

When a guest comes to you, does he come through the window or the door? Of course, he comes through the door. Cairo is the main entrance to Egypt. There will be many companies willing to come to Cairo, more so than Hughada.

Adopting this policy will allow tourists to come and see the pyramids, stroll in the Khan El-Khalili, and wander the streets of Cairo. There will be substantial income to Egypt that the people can feel. This will make Egyptians understand the importance of tourism, and hence, care for it and defend it.

The government’s current policy of obtaining a $5,000 fee tax on aeroplanes prevents Cairo from becoming a hub for air traffic in the region.

What about your agreement with the Ministry of Tourism to conduct flights to some areas in Europe and North Africa?

The agreement provided the Ministry of Tourism, in cooperation with the Egyptian Tourism Federation, with the right to contract and lease aircrafts from private companies at reasonable prices to attract middle-income tourists to Egypt.

Egyptian tourism companies offered prices as low as $4,000 per trip, even though about $7,000 is necessary for an airline to make a profit from trips.

But some of the private airlines accepted this?

Yes, there is a company that accepted to reduce its fees. However, not all companies accepted the agreement. As I told you, $4,000 for the flight is a very low price.

A common ground between the two parties could be reached. I believe that this agreement will be the real starting point for the Egyptian tourism sector to free itself the whim of the charter airlines, who recently demonstrated that they could severely damage Egypt’s tourism sector.

Do you have the revenue figures for private airlines in 2016?

No doubt that there is a decline in the number of tourists visiting Egypt since the end of last October. During the last year, there was a decline varying from company to another, but ranging between 15% and 20%.

However, some of the airlines, especially those working in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, achieved growth of approximately10%. The Civil Aviation Authority has to deal with Egyptian and international airlines in the same way, approving an increase in flights to create fair competition.

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