June was supposed to be a landmark month for EgyptAir, as it was to host this year's IATA annual general meeting in Cairo. That all changed in the most spectacular fashion during three weeks early this year as the Egyptian revolution took hold.
But this month still marks an important milestone for the Star Alliance carrier, which following the major disruption to Egyptian flights of earlier this year, will see its rebuilt network expand beyond last summer's levels when new routes to Iraq and Saudi Arabia begin.
EgyptAir chief executive Hussein Massoud says it saw revenues fall 80% during February and losses of around $80 million during the peak of the unrest. The carrier was forced into drastic action, grounding aircraft and cutting flights.
But as the situation in Egypt gradually stabilised, so the carrier's operations began to normalise. Massoud says the airline has gone from planning its flight schedule on day-by-day basis at the height of the revolution, to weekly by the end of February, and was able to restore a full network for the start of summer season at the end of March.
The summer network has been planned in two phases, the second "more ambitious" of which took effect at the start of the month and will see it operate 5% more flights than the same month last year. This includes new flights to Abha in Saudi Arabia, Erbil and Baghdad in Iraq and new daily flights from Alexandria to Dubai and Jeddah.
The revamped network sees capacity redeployed with more focus on countries contributing to tourism traffic, which in addition to the new routes also includes increased frequencies on a number of routes to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. It is also increasing frequency on flights from Alexandria.
"We hope for next winter that the network will be [even] better," adds Massoud, who is cautiously optimistic about the situation in the mid-term - though he adds: "it [also] depends on issues not in EygptAir's control, such as security, political stability and economic stability. We are trying to do our best."
But in the longer-term he is optimistic about the positives that will emerge from the Egyptian revolution. "If you look at the long-term, if you have a democracy there will be more credibility for investors to come and that is very important. We think in the long-term we will gain a lot."
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news