IATA: Stability key to Egyptian tourism lift – minister

Beijing
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Egyptian civil aviation minister Hussein Massoud believes the concerted efforts to recover the country's shattered tourism market are progressing well, even though passenger numbers have yet to return to pre-unrest levels.

Massoud, the former head of EgyptAir, has been in his position for about six months following the formation of the current government in December.

He says the impact of the political uprising in February 2011 drained national reserves from $36 billion to just $15 billion but adds that this decline was stemmed over the government's first four months in power and the reserves began to climb in April-May, rising by some $400 million.

"After one-and-a-half years, [the market] has not completely [recovered], but it's certainly much better now, if not 100%," says Massoud.

However, he says that political stability, safety and security across Egypt, and economic stability are necessary to ensure the improvement continues.

"After this, the economy will be much better and the aviation industry will be better," he adds.

Massoud says the ministry of civil aviation has tried to improve the situation through co-operation with the tourism ministry, facilitating airlines with credit lines, and helping them arrange fuel payments with the petroleum ministry.

"The government has to help airlines more concerning their profit margin - if costs are greater than revenues, this is a problem," he says.

Massoud adds that the ministry wants to continue its policies of improving airport infrastructure - it aims to accommodate 30 million passengers annually at Cairo in 2015 - while trying to reduce taxation and meet environmental objectives.