The Egyptian Airports Company (EAC) plans to tender a contract for the expansion of Terminal 2 at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport soon.

The announcement of the planned tender came after the Egyptian Cabinet did not directly appoint the local Arab Contractors Company for the expansion project as previously expected, according to a local media report.

It is understood that the planned renovation of the terminal aims to bring an additional capacity of 2 million passengers a year to the airport. The airport’s capacity currently stands at 7.5 million passengers a year.

It handled 5.8 million passengers in 2015, some 8 per cent lower compared to the previous year.

The original airport expansion plan announced in 2014 includes the construction of a new terminal and runway, but this has been put on hold in 2016.

“The original plan is still on hold until the tourism movements resume,” a source familiar with the project tells MEED.

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt’s most popular island resort, has suffered a steep drop in tourist numbers in 2016 following the crash of the Russian Airbus A321 plane, operated by Metrojet, on 31 October 2015, killing all 224 passengers on board after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport. The downing of the plane, thought to be due to a bomb, was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

The UK’s British Airways has suspended flights between Gatwick Airport and Sharm el-Sheikh indefinitely, while British low-cost carrier Monarch Airlines has not so far resumed flights to the island. Turkish Airlines has resumed direct flights to the island in September 2016 and the Russian government said in December flights to the island resort could resume ‘soon.’