The Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport on Sunday dawn received its first Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul after the Turkish government announced it would lift the flight ban to Sharm el-Sheikh, imposed after a Russian plane crashed in central Sinai on October 2015.
As drums beat and oboes played, city mayor Mahmoud al-Suleia and the deputy director of Sharm el-Sheikh Airport Yasser Jaheen presented flowers and sweets to welcome tourists coming on board the Turkish plane, the moment it arrived.
The plane carried 154 tourists of different nationalities and returned with 80 passengers, said Deputy Director of the Sharm el-Sheikh Turkish Airlines terminal at the airport Ahmed Shaaban.
Turkish Airlines will organize four flights a week to Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda said that the return of Turkish flights to Sharm el-Sheikh was clear evidence of the improved level of security, applied in accordance with international specifications.
He pointed out that despite South Sinai’s wide area and the large number of mountains, the security system there is at the highest level, with rigorous combing of mountainous areas by security forces.
The city has recently seen a tourism boom, relying on domestic and Arab tourism, which contributes to reducing losses for owners of hotels and tourist resorts, though bazaars and shops continue to suffer, Suleia said.
Suleia was optimistic that Turkish tourism would return to Sharm el-Sheikh, alongside continued efforts by officials to restore European tourism.
Egypt currently seeks to diversify its tourism markets and not limit it to Europe, he said.
The first British flight to Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport since 2015 will arrive in December coming from London, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation, Ahmed Genena, announced last week.
The British airline will continue operating the same flight weekly until March 2020, timed to match the anticipated increase in tourist inflow to Sharm el-Sheikh for the winter season, he said.
Many European countries announced a flight ban on the city after a Russian passenger plane crashed in Sinai in October 2015. Since then, the Egyptian government has made efforts to implement a sophisticated security system to cover the entire city, especially the airport.