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Saudi Arabia and Egypt in air services dispute

6-Apr-2010 12:07 PM

Saudi General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) and the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority are involved in an escalating dispute over landing rights (Arab News, 05-Apr-2010). Egypt initially refused to allow two Saudi-based private airlines (nasair and Sama) to operate from Cairo International Airport to transport Egyptian Umrah pilgrims to Madinah, with GACA in turn denying permission to EgyptAir to operate to Madinah. The two sides signed a liberal air services agreement in Feb-2006, although the pact was never fully implemented, reportedly due to EgyptAir concerns over the expansion of budget airlines. The number of air passengers between Saudi Arabia and Egypt reached 3.2 million in 2009, including Haj and Umrah pilgrim traffic.