Head of Egypt Air sacked after 20 years on the job

Cairo- Egypt (PANA) -- Egypt's civil aviation minister, Ahmed Shafeeq has fired the head of Egypt Air, Mohamed Fahim Rayan, who led the state-owned aviation group for nearly 23 years, Egyptian papers reported Tuesday.
Rayan, 73, a former air force pilot, was already in office in 1981 when President Hosni Mubarak, himself a former air force pilot, came to power, the assassination of President Anwar Sadat by radical Islamists.
Rayan's eviction occurred less than six weeks after an Egypt Air Boeing 737 crashed into a hillside in the outskirts of Tunis, killing at least 15 people.
Last week, Egypt's cabinet approved plans to split the national aviation group into six bodies under a new holding company.
The new Egypt Air Holding Company comprises five units covering airlines, maintenance, ground services, air cargo, tourism and flight services.
On Monday, Shafeeq appointed former head of the Civil Aviation Authority, Abdel Fattah Kato, as head of the new Egypt Air Holding Company.
He also named five officials to be in charge of the new units of the new Egypt Air Holding.
Criticism of Egypt Air in the media and also in the People's Assembly, which is controlled by the ruling National Democratic Party, reached its peak after the crash in May near Tunis- Carthage Airport, the second of an Egypt Air plane since 1999.
A Boeing 767 en route to Cairo plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, after taking off from New York's John F.
Kennedy airport on 31 October 1999, killing 217 people, including 80 Egyptians, according to official sources.
Egyptian pilots recently told the opposition newspaper Al Wafd that the crash in Tunisia "revealed many irregularities and problems in the company.
" They urged the government "to immediately reform the company before any more accidents happen.
" The pilots, who spoke to Al Wafd on condition of anonymity, said Egypt Air's maintenance department "needs urgent upgrading" and "poor maintenance could be responsible" for the crash in Tunisia and "future disasters.
" One of the pilots said the company "haphazardly selects planes for flights," adding "some planes are too old to fly long hauls.
" He called for "an immediate revision of the method of selection of planes.
" Air Marshal Shafeeq, a former commander of the Egyptian air force was appointed minister of aviation by President Mubarak in the wake of a tragic train disaster in February, which resulted in the death of hundreds of Egyptians.
Egypt Air was established in 1932, long before the end of British occupation of Egypt.

18 june 2002 19:45:00

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