Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—EgyptAir may suffer losses of up to 10 billion Egyptian pounds (1.4 billion US dollars) this year, according to the chairman of the airline’s parent company.
Speaking during a news conference held by the Ministry of Aviation and attended by leading officials representing a number of global airlines and airports, the chairman of the EgyptAir Holding Company, Sameh El-Hefni, said: “The accumulated losses may rise from 5.9 billion pounds to 10 billion [pounds] by the end of the year, while the committees continue their work to audit cumulative losses since the January revolution.”
In February, then-minister of aviation Abdelaziz Fadel said that the company’s total losses had reached 8 billion pounds (1.1 billion dollars) since the uprising.
Hefni also assured attendees that “despite this, the company [EgyptAir Holding Company] is still meeting all its contractual obligations and payments and has not defaulted on any financial commitments to local or international parties.”
Egypt’s tourism sector has been hit hard since the 2011 uprising. The country drew in a total of 14 million tourists during 2010, just prior to the 2011 uprising. The number of tourists visiting Egypt during the first three months of 2014 totaled 755,000, down 32.4 percent year-on-year, according to official statistics agency CAPMAS.
A vital source of hard currency for Egypt, tourism is also a major contributor to GDP—in 2010 the sector accounted for 14 percent of the country’s economic output. It employs 3.8 million people both directly and indirectly, according to Ministry of Tourism figures.
Meanwhile, Minister of Civil Aviation Hussam Kamal said the aviation and health ministries were both currently working together to fight the spread of the MERS coronavirus into Egypt. He said the Ministry of Aviation had decided to broadcast public awareness videos on EgyptAir flights, especially those flying to and from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in order to raise awareness among passengers and crew on how to avoid becoming infected.