On Wednesday, EgyptAir flight MS804 reportedly went missing overnight while it was traveling from Paris to Cairo with more than 50 passengers on board. As it approached the end of its journey, the plane had just passed into Egyptian airspace when it fell off of radar screens. A potentially tragic situation, it's the latest incident to mar the worrisome safety record of EgyptAir and, more broadly, Egyptian air travel. Update: On Thursday morning, Egyptian aviation officials confirmed with the Associated Press that the EgyptAir plane has crashed. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity with AP, said the "possibility that the plane crashed has been confirmed," since flight MS804 never arrived at any of the airports. The officials told AP they will now be searching for debris from the plane.
Flight MS804 departed Paris at around 11 p.m. local time on Wednesday. According to a series of tweets from EgyptAir, the plane apparently lost contact with its tracking systems around 2:45 a.m. in Cairo's local time. At the time, the plane was traveling at an altitude of 37,000 feet, which is within a passenger plane's typical cruising altitude range.
Wednesday's incident isn't the first time in recent memory that an EgyptAir plane has made for troublesome headlines. Back in March, an EgyptAir plane traveling domestically from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked in Egyptian airspace and rerouted to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The hijacking involved an hours-long standoff with authorities and a hijacker who appeared to some "psychologically unstable." Although terrorist activity was not involved and all passengers were released safely, the March incident quickly caused concern over EgyptAir and Egyptian air travel in general.
EgyptAir has previously been rated one of the world's worst airlines in other regards, including comfort and customer service. According to Business Insider in 2010, reviewers of EgyptAir found the crew members to be inattentive and the quality of the cabin to be questionable. Although neither of those concerns directly call the safety of the airline into question, EgyptAir's negative reviews, which don't seem to have significantly improved over the years, could understandably raise a few eyebrows. What's more, in 2009, the European Union reportedly flagged EgyptAir for several safety issues, choosing to carefully monitor the airline and perform a second inspection.
The safety concerns connected to EgyptAir aren't necessarily unique to that specific airline. In October 2015, Metrojet, a Russian airline, suffered a tragic incident while in Egyptian airspace. Metrojet flight 9268 was traveling from an Egyptian resort town to Russia when it crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. All 224 people on board perished, and terrorism has been suspected, though the crash officially remains under investigation.
In reality, safety has been a concern for travelers anywhere in Egypt, whether it's on a plane, at the airport, or around town, due to the ongoing unrest that has rocked the country in recent years. As Mashable has reported, the Egyptian tourism industry has never fully recovered from the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. Heightened concerns over the safety of its airlines probably won't help.