Russian airline whose jet crashed in Egypt says three other A321s have passed checks

A picture taken on Oct 25, 2015 shows a Kogalymavia (Metrojet) A321 jet.
A picture taken on Oct 25, 2015 shows a Kogalymavia (Metrojet) A321 jet.PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS, AFP) - Russia's Kogalymavia, whose plane crashed in Egypt at the weekend, said on Thursday (Nov 5) that three of its four remaining A321 jets had passed unscheduled safety checks by Russia's state transport agency and were fit to fly.

The firm, whose planes fly under the Metrojet brand, had said earlier on Thursday that it had stopped operating its four remaining A321 jets after the crash on Saturday which killed 224 people.

But Oksana Golovina of THC Holding, the company which owns Kogalymavia, said later that Rostransnadzor, the state transport agency, had now given three of its A321s the all clear.

"The third plane passed checks at 12.05 Moscow time today," said Ms Golovina. "The fourth is now undergoing technical checks in Istanbul and will be checked shortly after it returns to Russia."

The Kremlin said earlier on Thursday it believed any theories about what caused the crash were speculation and that only the official investigation could determine what happened.

The team investigating the crash will examine whether there was any explosive material onboard the plane, Alexander Neradko, head of Russian aviation agency Rosaviatsia, told Russia 24 television on Thursday. Mr Neradko said the investigation team would reach its first conclusions in a few months.

Meanwhile, Egypt's civil aviation minister also rejected claims by Britain and the United States that the airliner may have been brought down by a bomb.

Investigators "have as yet no evidence or data confirming the theory" of a bomb attack, Hossam Kamal said in a statement. "The theory of a detonation in the Russian plane is not based on facts," he said. "Egypt is committed to a full and thorough investigation, in order to establish the facts in the eyes of the whole world."

Mr Kamal also defended the security of Egypt's airports, saying they had passed regular audits by Egyptian authorities and international organisations.

"All of Egypt's airports meet international standards for security measures," he said.

Britain and Ireland have temporarily suspended flights to and from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the plane took off from on Saturday bound for Saint Petersburg before crashing 23 minutes later, killing all 224 people on board.

The Egyptian branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, which is waging a deadly insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, has claimed it downed the plane.