Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to a recommendation by the Federal Security Service to suspend all flights to Egypt. The President also ordered the organization of efforts to return Russians back home from Egypt.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had urged the suspension of all Russian flights to Egypt after a Russian plane crashed in Egypt’s North Sinai on October 31 killing all 224 passengers on board.
“As long as we haven’t established the causes of the incident, I consider it appropriate to suspend the flights of Russian aircraft to Egypt. This primarily applies to the tourist flow,” FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov said in a meeting of the Russian Anti-Terror Committee, reported RT.
The FSB Director suggested the “temporary” measure would last until the results of the crash are made clear.
The news comes after governments across the world have advised their citizens against all but essential travel to Egypt.
KLM’s decision follows a similar decision by the United Kingdom which resumed flights from Sharm El-Sheikh but only for passengers who would agree to travelling with just carry-on luggage. Dozens of flights are expected to “evacuate” up to 20,000 Britons who are stranded in Sharm El-Sheik after the cancellation of their flights.
Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium are among the countries that updated their travel warnings and urged their citizens against all but essential travel to the Sinai Peninsula. German airliner Lufthansa and its subsidiaries suspended all flights to Sharm El-Sheikh on Thursday.
On Thursday, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond announced Britain had received “intelligence” suggesting there was a “significant possibility” that the Russian plane crash that killed 224 people was caused by a bomb.
Hours after news of the crash began to circulate, ISIS affiliate Wilayat Sinai (Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis) claimed that it had downed the Russian passenger plane. However, Egyptian and Russian officials and security analysts were quick to dismiss the claims.
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has blasted the UK’s decision as “premature” and said that investigations are underway to determine the cause of the crash.
“The British decision was taken individually, without consultation with Egypt despite high-level contacts conducted between the two sides hours before the decision taken,” Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.
Russia had also dismissed the “speculation” and said there was no evidence yet to support claims that a bomb caused the plane to crash.
“Frankly speaking, it is genuinely shocking to think that the British government has some kind of information that could cast light on what happened in the skies above Egypt. If such information exists, and judging by what the foreign secretary has said it does, no one has passed it to the Russian side,” said Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
However, with the latest statement from the FSB, it may appear that Russia is reaching similar conclusions to those of the United Kingdom.
The tourism industry in Egypt employs up to four million Egyptians and is an integral source of income for Egypt’s economy, accounting for 11.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The latest events will likely deal a decisive blow to the industry, which has been struggling since the January 25 Revolution in 2011.