Flights resumed yesterday morning at Egypt’s airports, following six days of disruptions caused by Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud.
The cloud reportedly led to the cancellation of 163,000 flights worldwide, of which 700 were scheduled to depart from or arrive at Egypt’s airports.
The airlines sector is estimated to have incurred heavy losses of around LE25 million. Disrupted flight schedules also prevented tens of thousands of tourists from reaching their destinations.
Hassan Rashed, chairman of Cairo Airport Company, said that previously grounded flights for Air France, Air Berlin and Lufthansa departed from Cairo Airport yesterday morning, as well as several other flights for Italian and Czech airlines. Twenty-one internal flights for Egypt Air also resumed yesterday, he added.
Rashed said that fears of a second volcanic eruption have prompted Cairo Airport and Egypt Air to implement a plan to prevent overcrowding in departure and arrival halls over the coming two days.
The European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) announced that European flights to Egypt will resume, but only during certain hours of the day, due to heavier air traffic.
Airfields in some European countries still remain closed to flights.
Alaa Ashour, Egypt Air chairman, said Frankfurt, Munich, Geneva, Paris, Madrid, Istanbul, Rome, Vienna, Milan, and Athens are allowing only a limited number of flights to operate.
Egypt Air is running two flights to London’s Heathrow Airport, said Ashour, who added that bigger airplanes will be used to accommodate a larger number of passengers.
Hurghada International Airport received 152 charter flights yesterday carrying 22,000 tourists, and Marsa Alam Airport another six charter flights carrying 850 tourists from Germany, Italy and Russia.
According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the number of canceled flights since the volcanic eruption last Thursday has totaled 722, with Hurghada International Airport being the most affected.
Cairo International Airport has made a loss of LE2.742 million as a result of the crisis, said the Civil Aviation Ministry, while other aviation sources estimated losses at LE25 million.
In Luxor, 36 airplanes left for European countries with opened airfields.
Tharwat Agami, an official responsible for the tourism sector at Egypt’s stock market, said stranded tourists should be able to return home today, adding that they will not be required to pay any additional money for their extended stay.
The World Tourism Organization estimated worldwide losses incurred by the tourism sector due to the volcanic eruption as being around US$200 million.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.