Egypt and Russia have finalised a protocol on joint measures to ensure flight safety, with the aim of restoring bilateral air services shortly.

The draft has already been worked out and agreed on by designated experts from both sides, says Russian transport minister Maksim Sokolov.

He adds: "In February, our government approved the document in its entirety. We've resolved all issues jointly with Egyptian counterparts. They only have not yet set a date and place to sign it formally."

One of the clauses stipulates that a Russian task team will have a mandate to inspect safety at Egyptian airports prior to restoring direct flights between the two countries.

Sokolov suggests these inspectors visiting Cairo, Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh airports as soon as the Egyptian side issues notification that it has implemented enhanced security measures.

Under the protocol, their activity shall be restricted to procedures for checking the aircraft, passengers, luggage, cargo, on-board meals and cabin supplies on flights bound for Russia.

Egyptian authorities have committed to assist Russian specialists in carrying out safety checks and to allow them access the airport security zones, excepting those under control of the military.

All services by Russian airlines to Egypt have been suspended since the loss of a MetroJet Airbus A321 shortly after departure from Sharm el-Sheikh airport on 31 October 2015.

During a recent visit to Cairo, Valentina Matviyenko – speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament – said: "It was the deadliest disaster in the history of our commercial aviation. Therefore, we cannot ignore the minutest details relating to flight and passenger safety."

Sokolov expects an amended bilateral agreement to be signed this month and regular services to Egypt to resume within a week afterwards.

"This time will be sufficient for Aeroflot to allocate aircraft and resources to Moscow-Cairo route on which it is a designated carrier," he says.

Russia's tourist industry association believes there is demand for charter services to Khurgada and Sharm-el-Sheikh. Its vice-president Yuri Barzykin says: "Tour operators are waiting for the recovery of air travel to both resorts – naturally, providing that maximum safety is ensured."

Source: Cirium Dashboard