Monday, April 8, 2013

► EGYPT: Air Memphis forced to suspend Tehran flights after just 1 week following sectarian protests.

Air Memphis logoJust one week after having launched Egypt and Iran's first direct air link in over 30 years,  Air Memphis (MHS), the Egyptian charter operator, has been forced to suspend the flights after protests broke out at the Iranian ambassador's residence in Cairo just prior to Saturday's inaugural flight.

Air Memphis Airbus A320
Air Memphis A320
Reuters reports that hardline Sunni Islamists, who accuse Iran of trying to spread the Shi'ite faith in Sunni countries, objected to the development and about 100 people demonstrated in front of a senior Iranian diplomat's residence in Cairo on Friday.
"Talks were held and there was an agreement to postpone the arrival of (Iranian) visitors to mid-June," Rasha Azaizi, the tourism ministry spokeswoman told reporters on Monday. The whole operation will be suspended for the time being... to reassess the issue and review the programme," she said.
Source [Reuters]

Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou said on Sunday that incoming flights from Iran had been suspended "until the second half of June" to reconsider “a recent move to promote tourism between the two countries,” he was quoted as saying in local press.

The flight to Tehran took off carrying eight Iranians including diplomats. Air Memphis had originally planned to route the return flights Tehran (which of Tehran's two international airports is unknown) to Cairo to Aswan.

Ties broke off after the 1979 Iranian revolution, when Egypt's then president, Anwar Sadat, gave sanctuary to the deposed Shah of Iran.