23-04-2024

Lithuania and Egypt discuss agreement for regular direct flights, ways to boost maritime cooperation

Lithuania and Egypt intend to cooperate more closely, improving direct air links and developing maritime transport and logistics connections. Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis has discussed these possibilities with the ministers of Egypt during his visit to Egypt this week.

"We appreciate the growing cooperation with Egypt in maritime and air transport and look forward to further strengthening it. We have great potential to develop transport and logistics links between the two regions through more sustainable and smart shipping industry and innovations. The transport links between the two countries are crucial for increasing bilateral trade as well as for the development of new global freight routes," Mr Skuodis said.

During his visit to Egypt, Mr Skuodis met Minister for Transport Kamel Al Wazir, Minister for Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat and Minister for Civil Aviation Mohamed Abbas Helmy Hashem and presented Lithuania's transport sector and its opportunities. He called for further development of transport and logistics interconnections as well as cooperation in the fields of air transport, maritime transport, digitisation, innovation and postal services.

Minister  Skuodis also invited Egypt to join the International Transport Forum, currently presided over by Lithuania. The International Transport Forum, which currently brings together 66 countries from around the world, will be joined by Saudi Arabia, Oman, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic at its summit in Leipzig, Germany, in May this year.

The Lithuanian and Egyptian ministers also discussed the conclusion of an Air Service Agreement that would pave the way for regular direct flights between Lithuania and Egypt, which are of interest to air carriers and tour operators. Mr Skuodis invited the Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr Helmy, to come to Vilnius to sign the agreement later this year.

Egypt is one of the most popular destinations for Lithuanian travellers in Africa, and the tourism sector is a very important part of the Egyptian economy. In 2023 alone, about 154,000 passengers travelled by charter flights from Lithuanian airports to the main Egyptian resorts (Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh, Marsa Alam). Flights between Lithuania and Egypt accounted for 17.5% of all charter flights operated at Lithuanian Airports.

Negotiations are also currently underway between the Lithuanian Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Egyptian Ministry of Transport on the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of maritime transport. The draft Memorandum foresees the strengthening of cooperation between ports, the exchange of experience in enhancing maritime safety and pollution prevention, and the development of cooperation on the international agenda.

Mr Skuodis also plans to visit the Port of Alexandria, where he will present the Port of Klaipėda and its terminal capacities; Minister Skuodis will also invite the management of the Port of Alexandria to visit the Port of Klaipėda and sign a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the two ports.

Egypt ranks 21st in terms of direct shipping at Klaipėda Port. Last year, a total of over 327,000 units of cargo were transported to and from Egypt via the Port of Klaipėda, with the majority (38%) being grain and other agricultural products.

Between 2024 and 2027, €234 million will be invested in the infrastructure of the Port of Klaipėda. Among the port's major projects are the development of up to 100 hectares of new territory in the southern part of the port, the dredging of the shipping channel to a depth of 17 metres, as well as the development of infrastructure for an offshore wind farm, which is an important part of Lithuania's plans to build 1.4 GW of offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea. The Port of Klaipėda is expected to become a key platform for the assembly of offshore wind farms and their components by 2028.

Mr Skuodis is visiting Egypt from 22 to 24 April.