RAS AL KHAIMAH, United Arab Emirates - EgyptAir will seek 5 billion to 7 billion Egyptian pounds ($318 million - $447 million) in government support this year to help to pay for salaries, foreign loans and aircraft rental fees, its chief executive said on Monday.

Governments around the world have stepped in over the past year to help airlines hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing travel restrictions.

"We are dealing with it and we are trying to keep surviving, and this is with the support of our government so we can still continue our operation," CEO Roshdy Zakaria told reporters at an industry event in the United Arab Emirates.

He said he was optimistic the government would continue to support the airline, one of oldest in the Middle East, and that it would be difficult to survive without such assistance.

EgyptAir received 5 billion pounds last year in a mix of government-backed loans and direct state assistance.

That had helped the flag carrier to continue paying salaries in full while avoiding layoffs, said Zakaria, who is also chairman of the airline.

Layoffs have been widespread throughout the industry over the past year as airlines have sought to preserve cash during the worst crisis the industry has faced.

EgyptAir has been burning cash at a rate of about 500 million pounds a month, with about half as many flights in operation compared with before the pandemic, Zakaria said, adding that there are no plans to downsize its fleet or place new aircraft orders.

He also said that EgyptAir was in commercial talks with Sudan Airways about a potential joint venture while also examining whether to takeover Cairo-Tel Aviv operations from subsidiary Air Sinai. ($1 = 15.7310 Egyptian pounds)

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell Editing by David Goodman) ((Davide.Barbuscia@thomsonreuters.com; +971522604297; Reuters Messaging: davide.barbuscia.reuters.com@reuters.net))