ASTANA – Kazakhstan has suspended tourist flights to Egypt due to safety concerns following the crash of a Russian passenger plane that killed 224 people Oct. 31.
The Committee of Civil Aviation recommended last week limiting flights to Egypt and for tour companies stop selling packages to the country following a meeting with air and tour companies, the Ministry for Investment and Development announced Nov. 13.
“The committee has made an assessment of the security hazard level of Kazakhstan air companies which are carrying out the flights to the airport of Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) in accordance with a standard method of aviation security national rules and risks management system of the International Civic Aviation Organisation. By the results of the assessment, a high level of aviation security provision hazard was defined for Kazakhstan air companies which are carrying out flights to Egypt,” the ministry statement read. It noted that Russia, the U.K., the Netherlands and Turkish Airlines had grounded flights to Egypt.
According to the ministry, around 800 tour packages have already been sold with flights to Sharm el-Sheikh until the middle of January, and there are some 233 people in the Egyptian resort area who arrived there via a Scat Airlines charter flight from Kazakhstan Nov. 7.
Tez Tour Kazakhstan said in a statement to its clients that tourist flights to Egypt had been stopped Nov. 12 by an order from the Civil Aviation Committee, Reuters reported Nov. 13. Scat, the only airliner from Kazakhstan offering charter flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, said it would make a final flight Nov. 17 to evacuate the travellers it brought on the Nov. 7 flight, according to the same report. Representatives from Scat also said they had received a recommendation to suspend flights from the Civil Aviation Committee.
According to Reuters, Tez Tour shared the communication they had received from the Civil Aviation Committee, which said the committee “strongly recommended” that flights be suspended until the probe of the Russian crash was completed and made public because of the possibility that the Russian crash was the result of terrorism.
Director of the Kazakhstan Tourist Association Rashida Shaikenova told Reuters, “Many tourists have already sold back their holiday vouchers for Egypt. We’ve already seen a 60-70 percent drop in demand for tourist trips abroad. … The latest plane crash can make things even worse.”