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Egypt opens new international airport in Giza for trial flights

New airport has state-of-the-art technology in air traffic control, automatic landing systems and security systems
Security officers check passengers at Sphinx International Airport outside Cairo on Saturday (Reuters)

Egypt opened a new international airport on the outskirts of the capital on Saturday for an initial trial period, in a bid to ease pressure from Cairo's main airport and help boost tourism.

The Sphinx International Airport (SPX), located near the Giza Pyramids and the new Grand Egyptian Museum, is expected to operate 30 flights from 25 January to 9 February during its trial run.

The $17m project comes as part of the Tourism Ministry's plan to improve access to historical sites from resort areas on the Red sea including Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, Reuters said. It will fully open in 2020.

The SPX has been dubbed the “300 passenger airport” after its accommodation capacity per hour, according to Ahram’s website. It has a 975 square metre departure hall and a 1,100 square metre arrival hall. It also has a VIP hall.

The new airport is equipped with state-of-the-art technology in air traffic control and automatic landing systems and security systems such as X-ray explosive detectors and high-end CCTV and thermal surveillance cameras, Ahram said.

The bombing of a Russian airliner shortly after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh in 2015 hit tourism numbers hard, continuing a downward trend that started with the years of turmoil following the "Arab Spring" protests of 2011.

Tourism revenues had begun to rebound, jumping 77 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2018 to $4.8bn, before a deadly attack on a bus in December killed three Vietnamese tourists and their Egyptian guide.

The bus attack was the first deadly attack against foreign tourists in Egypt for over a year.