If it continues to refuse improving its services, the airline will be swept away by competition once Egyptian civil aviation is liberalized (which is why that hasnâ€™t happened yet, but there are hints the government is losing its patience with the airline.)
Egypt has (except for regional airports) not yet signed the BlueSkies agreement with the EU (unlike Morocco, in a way a competitor on the Middle Eastern tourism market), which amongst other things allows foreign airlines to fly to Cairo and then on to other destinations, thus competing with EgyptAirâ€™s domestic flights.
EgyptAir did not renew its information systems between the 1970s (!) and the early 2000s, and there were years its subsidiaries didnâ€™t even bother to issue annual reports to the holding company after the new structure was created in 2002.
The situation is somehow similar to Italy: a big tourism nation, whose national carrier just doesnâ€™t get its act together. Alitalia makes 1 million euro loss a day, and nobody wants to buy the carrier (letâ€™s wait and see whether any of the three current bidder will actually buy it) as no one knows how bad it is.
Except that in Egypt, and thatâ€™s the point Iâ€™m trying to make, national security issues are once again in the way of economic growth and jobs. Civil aviation is one of the last sectors still very much controlled by the security apparatus.
It is full of former air force generals (and pilots?), of course, but for instance Cairoâ€™s airport is also not part of any governorate, which means it is administered directly by the presidency â€“ which means Zakaria Azmi and the likes from the presidential surroundings control which business man has to pay how much to get export licenses and so on.
At least until very recently, the mukhabarat had stakes in what appeared to be private sector services companies at the airport, and forced the management of these companies to blow up staff numbers with additional pairs of eyes observing passengers instead of doing what these companies were supposed to do to render Cairo with the services-oriented airport it deserves.
I always found it difficult to remain patient while the police guy who checks whether you got a border stamp about two meters after you got a border stamp is unable to find the border stamp in your passport if you know that at the same time thereâ€™s plenty of non-police guys available to carry your luggage right into the airplane without any controls whatsoever for just 50 euro (the business man who told me that didnâ€™t have change ready when he tried to navigate around that big group of Italian tourists in front of him that made his flight very much look like taking off without him.)
Getting back to EgyptAir, the issue is its protection prevents Egyptâ€™s tourism industry from realizing its potential. Foreign carriersâ€™ demands for more slots at Cairoâ€™s airport are delayed or not approved, but this lowers the number of tourism arrivals other parts of the government (rightfully) hope for.
Let's hope being a member of the Star Alliance will approve the service-side of things at EgyptAir (while the quality of its pilots and the modernity of its fleet are undisputed).