This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
Six months ago, a bomb was smuggled onto a Russian Metrojet passenger plane, which exploded of the Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 onboard. This week, an EgyptAir flight was taken over by a hijacker enroute from Alexandria on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast to the country’s capital in Cairo.
Aviation experts are now raising serious questions regarding the safety of aviation in Egypt, blaming Egyptian aviation authorities for failing to improve security and prevent the hijacking following the plane bombing just a few months ago.
These failings were described as “very serious” by Captain Mike Vivian, a British aviation safety and security consultant. The problem, according to him, is the tension between those in Egypt keen to preserve the tourist industry the country is reliant upon, and those hostile to foreign intrusion.
“After the Metrojet attack security was elevated but now it has gone back to the usual way,” said Dr Sajjan Gohel, a counter-terrorism analyst and international security director for the Asia-Pacific Foundation think tank. He ascribed the EgyptAir hijacking to lackadaisical security, or worse, to “collusion at security at airports in Egypt.”
Experts familiar with security procedures at Egyptian airports describe the attitude of personnel manning X-ray machines as negligent and careless, with workers little concerned with identifying suspicious objects in luggage.
To make matters worse, corruption is rife in the country. This is no less true for security personnel at airports, who can be easily swayed to allow the passage of luggage unchecked for a small bribe.
This hijacking could and should have been prevented with proper security practices. The fact it was not demonstrates clearly a concerning trend, and puts the whole of the Egyptian security apparatus under suspicion of criminal negligence at the very least. The next incident they allow to happen could turn out far worse.