“EgyptAir did not allow any conditions infringing on its sovereignty to be included in any agreements with Russia,” former Aviation Minister Wael El-Madawi stated during an interview with Egypt Today on Wednesday.
In light of the recent agreements that will in effect restart Russian flights to Egypt signed by Russia and Egypt during President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Egypt, Egypt Today interviewed El-Madawi to look deeper into the issue.
“Egyptian airports have the highest safety devices and are ready to receive Russian planes any time,” the former minister emphasized.
The full transcript of the interview is included below.
First, how do you perceive the Egyptian-Russian agreement regarding the return of flights?
A tentative agreement is certainly good, as it will contribute to many of the files on top of which lays the return of trade between the two countries again. In addition to the return of aviation, it contributes to the transfer of various agricultural crops to Russia, confirming that as a preliminary agreement, it would contribute to the restoration of the situation before the plane crash
Some people said that there are clauses in the Egyptian-Russian agreement that affect Egyptian sovereignty, is that true?
Incorrect altogether; Egypt never accepts the infringement of Egyptian sovereignty and any such conditions are rejected. Russia had additional demands on airport security, to agree to resume direct flights following the crash of the Russian aircraft in Sinai, including the biometric inspection and fingerprinting procedures. However, I affirm that Egypt has completely refused to agree to any measures affecting Egyptian sovereignty. Any agreement that has been approved was submitted to the competent authorities for consideration. Therefore, Egypt does not accept any decisions that affect its sovereignty.
How do you perceive the level of security in Egyptian airports in general?
Egyptian airports are fully secure and are subject to the highest levels of safety and are superior to many international airports. The level of security at Egyptian airports is continuously evaluated and is developed in general and periodically.
Russia has sent delegations to check up on the insurance procedures. In addition, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) confirmed that international airports are subject to safety standards and many aviation organizations have praised security measures at Egyptian airports in general.
But there are those who spoke of Russia’s reservations to some of the security measures at Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada airports?
All airports are secured professionally and uniformly, and are all subject to the highest insurance. Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh Airports are subject to the same insurance procedures as Cairo International Airport.
Does that mean that the decision to resume flights means the return of Russian tourism?
The agreement between Egypt and Russia regulates aviation and has nothing to do with the return of tourism. Touristic trips depend on charter flights which will be discussed in a new round of negotiations in March and April 2018.
How is the performance of Egyptian airlines evaluated, specifically EgyptAir?
Egyptian airlines are successful but need to qualify, specifically EgyptAir. However, EgyptAir needs to establish a subsidy airline to cut the main one’s losses. Employees would be relocated to the subsidy branch in order to help generate revenues in both the subsidy branch and the main one. The budget of EgyptAir is LE 3.5 billion, but the airline records losses double this amount and therefore it is necessary to structure the employment system of the airline.
How do you perceive the intransigence of states in flying back to Egypt despite the fact that many other countries have been subjected to terrorism but do not suffer the same consequences?
It is unjustified intransigence and Egypt is more secure than many countries. There is a country like Turkey and other countries that are subjected to more terrorist operations than in Egypt. Also, there are international airports which are exposed to greater risks than those in Egypt. So Egypt is more secure than many other countries.
Finally, will things go back to normal prior to the Russian plane crash?
Matters will gradually return to normal as Egypt enjoys all means of security and safety, and Egyptian authorities are working on providing all means of convenience to tourists arriving from abroad. Besides, Russian tourism and others will come back after some time and we must be prepared for this.