Russia says air links with Egypt will remain cut "for several months" over security concerns at Egyptian airports in the aftermath of the October 31 plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula that killed all 224 people on board.
Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, quoted Tuesday by Russian news outlets, said Cairo must improve security at the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, as well as Cairo and the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.
Ivanov spoke as experts continue to probe the cause of the crash of the Russian plane, and as tens of thousands of wary tourists from Russia and western Europe continue evacuating Egyptian resorts.
Militants claiming links to Islamic State extremists say they carried out the attack, which key foreign governments now believe may have involved an explosive device. However, Egyptian investigators say no official determination has yet been made.
The impact of the Russian ban on Egyptian tourism was not immediately clear at the opening of Egypt's lucrative tourism season.
But analysts say Russia accounts for about one-third of all Egypt's tourists in recent years, with snow-bound vacationers drawn to Egyptian resorts in the dead of winter by warmth and sunshine.
Late last week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich estimated that 80,000 Russians were in Egypt and that 11,000 of them had been evacuated by Sunday.
Meanwhile, the head of Cairo's international airport tells the Associated Press that security experts from the Netherlands, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are examining the scanning of passengers, cargo and airport baggage at the facility. Security guards and caterers were also reported under scrutiny.