EGYPT AIR IN DIRE STRAITS
Information was received from usual well informed airline sources that Egypt Air, a member of the global Star Alliance, is seeking assistance from fellow member airlines in need of more aircraft to lease out, by dry or wet lease, as many as two dozen aircraft during the upcoming summer season. The leases are aimed to reducing cost while earning the keep of the aircraft, following a dramatic loss of transit traffic via Cairo and traffic into Egypt’s main city of Cairo and other in particular resort towns at the Red Sea and along the River Nile. One source has put the traffic and subsequent revenue reduction to as much as 75 percent, causing the financial alarm bells to ring at the airline head offices in Cairo.
Egypt Air has in recent years made great strides towards a fleet modernization and also in terms of network expansion and their membership in Star Alliance has undoubtedly helped them to achieve such progress in such short a time. However, the political fallout in Egypt has made a huge impact on the country’s economic performance too, in particular the tourism industry and aviation sector, where resorts are standing empty and aircraft fly with few passengers or even remain grounded in an effort to save cost.
It is now known how many planes Egypt Air presently keeps on the ground but sources from Cairo have indicated that crews and other staff have been asked to take unpaid leave to help save their long term jobs, while other have indicated that about a third of the current fleet is ‘parked’.
Unless the government in Cairo stabilises soon and restores market confidence, in particular for the tourism industry at the Red Sea resorts, the Mediterranean resorts and the Nile – river cruise boats are parked in double and triple lines right now due to lack of tourists – the sector may stare financial ruin in the face.
However, the same sources also pointed out that they are – ahead of ITB and other crucial tourism trade fairs – working on a strategy to bring tourist visitors back to Egypt, even if at the expense of substantial pricing drops, just to keep the sector ticking over until the crisis finally comes to an end. Adds this correspondent that if indeed prices for vacations in Egypt are coming down substantially, this may be the right time to take a flight to Cairo, visit the Pyramids, take a Nile cruise to see the temples and monuments and spend some time along the sunny beaches of the Red Sea. Any takers?