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Cairo airport to partly close as economic crisis bites

Only one of the airport’s runways will stay in service around the clock. — AFP picOnly one of the airport’s runways will stay in service around the clock. — AFP picCAIRO, April 3 — Cairo’s international airport will be partly closed at night due to fewer incoming flights and to save energy, reports said on Monday, highlighting the economic crisis sweeping Egypt.

Two runways will be closed for four hours starting from 2330 GMT “in order to save energy”, said civil aviation minister Wael al-Maadawi in statements carried by the press.

Only one runway, at Terminal 3 — which serves as a regional hub — will remain open 24 hours a day.

Maadawi said airport revenues were not enough to cover the costs of keeping the runways open.

The decision, which comes into effect in June, “could be seen as an honest reflection of the deteriorating economic condition in Egypt,” said an editorial in the state-owned English language daily The Egyptian Gazette.

It also comes at a time of increasingly frequent power cuts aimed at saving energy.

The oil ministry last week admitted it does not have money to buy enough fuel for all of its power stations. Fuel-laden ships are docked at Egyptian ports but have not unloaded their cargo because there are no funds, it added.

“How will all the different utilities, industrial ventures and housing services cope with a major drop in electricity production and distribution during the summer season?” asked the Gazette.

The unrest which accompanied the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011 caused a significant drop in revenue generated by the once-lucrative tourism industry.

Foreign reserves have plunged from US$36 billion (RM112 billion) to US$13 billion in two years, and the budget deficit is increasing.

A mission from the International Money Fund (IMF) is expected in Cairo in the coming days to resume discussions over a US$4.8 billion loan, which authorities believe would help restore investor and foreign lenders’ confidence in Egypt.

President Mohamed Morsi’s administration has been plagued by unrest and deadly clashes between protesters and police, blocking efforts to build broad-based support for a needed programme of economic reform. — AFP/Relaxnews

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