Thursday, October 3, 2013

► EGYPT: Prospects for Air Memphis' continued Iran charters fade as Cairo suspends tourism ties with Tehran.

Air Memphis logoAs previously speculated, the change in power in Cairo has led the country to suspend tourism links with Iran for what Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zazou, stated were "reasons of national security". Mr Zazou's statement comes just 5 months after the then Islamist-backed government of Mohammed Morsi reached out to Tehran in a bid to restore relations, severed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Air Memphis DC-9-30 (Wolfcom)
The news effectively puts an end to any prospects Egyptian charter carrier Air Memphis (MHS) has of continuing its Tehran - Cairo/Aswan flights, launched in June amid much controversy.

Initial flights, originally scheduled to have launched in March, were delayed after protests by Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafists, who claimed that Iran intended to use the trips to promote Shi'ia Islam in the predominately Sunni Muslim country.

Since Mr Morsi's overthrow in July, the new military-backed government of Adly Mansour has steered away from his predecessor's pro-Islamic tendencies in favour of more neutral policies. 

The North African state has moved to undo some of Mr Morsi's policies, the latest involving a return of USD2billion that Qatar had deposited with Egypt's central bank last year in a bid to prop up Mr Morsi's then government. Additionally, Egyptian authorities have also refused a Qatari request to increase the number of flights between the two states.