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Putin OKs resumption of Russian airline service to Cairo - document

FILE PHOTO - Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the State Council at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia December 27, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Nemenov/Pool

MOSCOW/CAIRO (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin authorised the resumption of regular Russian airline flights to Cairo, according to a document published on the Moscow government’s website on Thursday.

Russia halted civilian air traffic to Egypt in October 2015 after Islamist militants detonated a bomb on a Russian Metrojet flight departing the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.

Putin’s clearance for flights to resume was effective from Jan. 2, the Russian government document said, though it gave no timeline for the actual resumption of service.

Egyptian airport sources said flights would resume first between Cairo and Moscow in February, and negotiations about restoring flights to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, popular with Russian tourists, will follow in April.

“The resumption of flights between Russia and Cairo is a very good sign, giving hope that charter flights to the Red Sea resorts will be possible soon,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted the head of Russia’s tour operators association, Maya Lomidze, as saying.

The 2015 bombing aboard the Metrojet airliner, claimed by Islamic State, and Russia’s suspension flight service dealt heavy blows to Egypt’s tourism industry, a major source of its hard currency reserves.

(This version of the story corrects flight resumption date.)

Reporting by Denis Pinchuk in Moscow and Abdel Nasser Aboulfadl in Cairo; editing by Mark Heinrich