A hot air balloon flies over the mortuary temple of Ramsis III at Medinet Habu on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt. File/ AP
Gulf Today Report
The Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation decided to suspend the activity of air balloons until the investigation of the fall of a balloon from a height of 60 meters, on Monday morning, in the tourist governorate of Luxor in the south of the country, which resulted in the injury of two people.
The ministry said in a statement posted on its official Facebook page: “The activity of balloon flights has been suspended until a committee from the Civil Aviation Authority arrives today to investigate the incident.”
It added that during the morning balloon flights in Luxor “where the wind speed was 3 knots on the surface of the earth,” the wind speed rose to seven knots after the balloons reached a height of approximately 60 meters from the ground.
According to the ministry’s statement, “At this height, one of the balloons deflected in the direction of another balloon, which led to a rupture in the balloon and it fell to the ground.
Two of the 28 passengers sustained minor injuries.
In 2018, a hot air balloon crashed in Luxor due to bad weather, killing a South African tourist and wounding 12 others.
Balloon trips in Luxor are among the popular destinations for tourists, especially after the Rams Road was opened in Luxor after its restoration during a solemn ceremony attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi last November.
The decision to suspend the activity of balloons comes as Egypt tries to revive the tourism sector, which is one of the most important sources of foreign exchange for the country, by preparing museums and historical places on the one hand, and beaches on the other.
According to official figures, Egypt achieved tourism revenues of $13 billion in 2019, but this number fell to $4 billion in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, after the government expected to earn $16 billion.
Then the Russian-Ukrainian war erupted at the end of February, raising the Egyptians’ concern about the aspirations of the tourism sector, especially since Russians and Ukrainians make up the majority of foreign visitors.