Sinai plane crash another blow to Egyptian tourism

Egypt dismisses claim that Islamist terrorists brought down Russian passenger plane.

An investigation has been opened after a Russian passenger plane crashed early on 31 October in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard.

The 18-year-old plane had seven crew members, 213 Russian passengers and four Ukrainians.

Russian and Egyptian authorities have rejected claims of responsibility from Islamic State-affilated militants operating in the troubled Sinai province.

The black boxes containing the flight records are currently being analysed in Cairo by Egyptian, Russian and French investigators. A Russian team assisted efforts to recover bodies from the crash site, a mountainous region called Hasana, located some 75km south of the city El-Arish.

Three major airlines – Emirates, Air France and Lufthansa – have cancelled all flights over the Sinai Peninsula until more information is available.

Russians make up almost 20 per cent of tourist arrivals to Egypt, the largest of any single country. Under president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has cancelled visa costs for Russian tourists to entice more visitors, with 1.7 million predicted in 2015.

The plane crash is a further blow to Egypt's once booming tourism sector which has been ailing since the 2011 revolution which led to the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak.