Tourism executives have welcomed the 25 June announcement by the Civil Aviation Ministry that all Arab and Egyptian airlines will be allowed to operate scheduled and non-scheduled flights from Arab airports to all international Egyptian airports, except Cairo.
The move is part of a wholesale drive by newly appointed Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafiq to open up the sector. Recent measures include the reorganisation of the national flag carrier with the creation of EgyptAir Holding Company, and the removal of Mohamed Fahim Rayan from the helm of the airline (MEED 21:6:02). There have also been radical changes to the management structure at Cairo airport.
The ministry says that requests from airlines to operate new services to the eligible Egyptian airports will be received from 1 July.
'It is a very positive step in the right direction,' says Sarmd Zok, chief executive of Saudi Arabia-based Kingdom Hotel Investment Group, which recently made two hotel acquisitions in Egyptian resorts and inaugurated its first hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh in May. 'It will help to develop the strong customer base in the Gulf, particularly during the summer months, which are off-season for Europeans.'
The move has also been welcomed by private companies involved in new resort airport projects. The first such airport has opened in Marsa Alam, and a consortium led by the European ABBis poised to sign an agreement to build and operate a new terminal in Sharm el-Sheikh.
The 17 June announcement of the changes affecting the national carrier were followed three days later by fresh measures involving Cairo airport. The Cairo Airport Authority is to be turned into Cairo Airport Company, affiliated to the Holding Company for Airports & Air Traffic. The new company will be headed by Hassan Mohamed Hassan, who will take over responsibility for the airport from Abdelaziz Badr.