The national airline and flag carrier of Egypt, as well as its largest airline.
EgyptAir is a major airline, established in 1932 and headquartered in Cairo, Egypt. EgyptAir has owned and operated many different kinds of civil aircraft and was the first airline in the Middle East to operate jetliners. Beginning in 1980, EgyptAir embarked on a modernization and growth plan, developing it from an airline using only seven Boeing 707’s and seven 737’s to a large, market-oriented, self-financing airline. EgyptAir is a fully state-owned company but is duly vested with its own legislation as a deregulated autonomous organization.
Starting in the 1980’s, Egypt Air carried out several dedicated marketing surveys of international and local markets to evaluate its total domestic and international traffic volume. Accordingly, EgyptAir planned its network to maximize its traffic and scope, reaching main cities in all five continents. To carry out its marketing plan, EgyptAir purchased a mix of modern aircraft and then developed an autonomous infrastructure to support and serve its fleet in order to operate in a safe and efficient manner.
As a result of its market research, EgyptAir was reinvented in a stepped-pyramid form. The base of the pyramid was EgyptAir’s most profitable markets. In September, 1980, EgyptAir purchased eight Airbus A300-B4 wide-body, medium-range aircraft to cover international markets in Europe and the Middle East, at a total cost of $382.8 million. This became the basis of EgyptAir’s process of gradual development. The economic operation of these aircraft enabled EgyptAir to fulfill its financial obligations to the European banks that had financed the purchase of the aircraft. This was a significant step toward establishing the airline’s financial credibility, which can be very challenging for an airline from an underdeveloped region of the world such as Egypt.
To cover the domestic market, especially in Sinai, EgyptAir purchased three Dutch Fokker F-27 aircraft. In order to develop long-haul markets, EgyptAir purchased three Boeing 767-200 ER’s. To increase its capabilities to serve its long-haul markets and to cope with the needs of the fast-growing passenger and cargo markets, EgyptAir purchased two Boeing 747-300 combis (mixed passenger and cargo planes) followed by two 767-300 ER aircraft. Following that, EgyptAir sought to renew its medium-range, wide-body fleet and purchased nine Airbus A300-600’s. At the same time, EgyptAir replaced its medium-range, medium-capacity aircraft with seven Airbus A320-200’s, making the airline one of the world’s first operators of this high-technology, fly-by-wire (completely computer-controlled) aircraft. In order to link its local tourist market directly with international destinations, EgyptAir purchased five Boeing 737-500’s to replace its aging 737-200’s, which had served the airline for more than twenty years. To fulfill the needs of its markets in Japan and North America, EgyptAir purchased three Airbus A340-200’s and three Boeing 777-200 ultra-long-range aircraft for nonstop flights. EgyptAir was one of the first operators in the region using these two types of aircraft. It then purchased four Airbus A321-200’s to serve charter operations in the development of tourism. EgyptAir financed a contract to purchase three Airbus A318-200’s to be delivered early 2002. The process of fleet renewal resulted in a young fleet whose average age is similar to that of most major international airlines.
EgyptAir has invested heavily in constructing an engineering complex to be outfitted with the most modern technical support for its fleet. Its in-flight services complex has a production capacity of twenty-five thousand meals per day. EgyptAir has also established a ground services complex to carry out its loading and off-loading services, as well as the transportation of crew members and employees. It has also established an in-house computer center to control all EgyptAir activities, linking with international reservations systems such as Galileo, Amadeus, SABRE, and World Span.
EgyptAir embarked on a plan of renewing and modernizing its sales offices in Egypt and internationally, as well as modernizing its training center to provide EgyptAir with highly qualified crew members, technicians, and personnel in all other business-related fields. EgyptAir’s corporate headquarters were designed, constructed, and equipped with the latest technology and can accommodate 4,500 staff. Finally, as part of its comprehensive modernization plan, EgyptAir established duty-free shops at all Egyptian international airports.
Integrating its activities in the model used by most major world carriers, EgyptAir owns shares in many tourism companies and hotel chains, such as Cairo Airport Mövenpick, Tut Amon, and Nefertari in Aswan and Abu Simbel, and Taba Hilton resorts in Sinai. EgyptAir also owns shares in many charter companies, such as Shorouk Air and Air Cairo. Such investments have increased EgyptAir’s assets ten-fold since the implementation of the airline’s modernization and expansion plan in 1980. EgyptAir’s network has also expanded to reach major cities and capitals in all five continents.
On the whole, EgyptAir’s safety record is good, with a few exceptions. Its most notorious accident was the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 on October 31, 1999. The New York-to-Cairo flight crashed into the ocean between Long Island, New York, and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, with the loss of all 217 people aboard. The official investigation concluded that the copilot had committed suicide by deliberately diving the plane into the water, although EgyptAir vehemently denied that the copilot had ever shown any signs of mental instability. The presence of a number of Egyptian military officers on the flight suggested the possibility of a terrorist attack. The incident was the focus of much conspiratorial theorizing due to the fact that it occurred in the same general area as the July 19, 1996, crash of TWA Flight 800 and the July 16, 1999, crash of John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s Piper Saratoga.
Groenewege, Adrianus D. The Compendium of International Civil Aviation. 2d ed. Geneva, Switzerland: International Air Transport Association, 1999. A comprehensive directory of the major players in international civil aviation, with insightful and detailed articles. Weimer, Kent J., ed. Aviation Week and Space Technology: World Aviation Directory. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. An excellent introductory guide on all global companies involved in the aviation business. Provides a basic introduction to the essential information on each company.