CAIRO, March 23 Egypt will allow again hot air
balloon flights which were halted in February when 19 people
were killed in a crash near the ancient town of Luxor, state
media said on Saturday.
Mostly Asian and European tourists were killed in the crash
after a balloon caught fire following a mid-air gas explosion
near the Valley of the Kings and pharaonic temples popular with
travelers. One Egyptian was also killed.
Tour operators would be allowed again to conduct hot air
balloon flights from April 1, Civil Aviation Minister Wael
al-Maadawi told state news agency MENA.
He said authorities had improved safety rules and would
enforce more maintenance controls at balloon flight operators.
Hot air ballooning is popular with tourists, who are a
mainstay of the Egyptian economy, although visitor numbers have
fallen sharply since a 2011 uprising that toppled President
Hosni Mubarak. Two years of political instability have kept many
foreign tourists away.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Michael Roddy)