Egypt losing £120m a month as UK's Sharm el-Sheikh flight ban continues

Visitor numbers to the resort have declined by around 85% since a passenger plane was shot down in Sinai in October

Egypt is losing an estimated £120m a month as the UK ban on flights to Sharm el-Sheikh continues, after a passenger plane was shot down over Sinai by Isis last October 31, killing 224 people.

Visitor numbers to Sharm el-Sheikh have declined by around 85 per cent since the Russian plane was attacked during a journey from Sharm el-Sheik to St Petersburg, with countries including Russia and the UK suspending flights to the tourist destination.

The UK Foreign Office is continuing to advise against all but essential air travel to Sharm el-Sheikh, while there are still no UK airlines operating in the area, which has previously relied heavily on tourism.

However, the FCO said it has not raised the threat level of Sharm el-Sheikh itself, although any UK tourists there have been told they will need to make their own arrangements for returning to the UK.

On its website, the FCO said: “Regular flights to and from the UK to Sharm el Sheikh were suspended on 4 November. Special security measures to allow travellers in Sharm el Sheikh to return to the UK by air safely ended on Tuesday 17 November. UK airlines are no longer operating flights from Sharm el Sheikh to the UK…

“We will continue working with the Egyptian Authorities to enable regular flights between the UK and Sharm el Sheikh to resume. We are also liaising with travel companies so that they are able to resume flights and holidays in Sharm el Sheikh as soon as appropriate security arrangements are in place.”

But despite the pledge to look at restoring flight paths between the UK and Sharm el-Sheikh, the area has seen tourist numbers dwindle since the plane crash.

There could be some light at the end of the tunnel for Egypt however, as the no-fly decision is expected to be reviewed by some airlines after January 6, however UK operator Thomas Cook has extended its flight ban to the end of March this year.

Passengers stranded at Sharm el-Sheikh airport

The current financial losses reflect the situation in Tunisia, where visitor numbers have fallen drastically since the terrorist attack in Sousse last June 26, when 38 people were shot dead on the beach and in nearby resorts by members of Isis.

Although airlines continue to operate to Sousse, locals have been hit hard by the slump in tourist numbers – with many facing unemployment as businesses suffer in the wake of the attacks.

Unlike Egypt, however, the Tunisian government is attempting to stem the loss of tourists, with airlines and hotels offering cut-price deals to the area, amid hopes the situation will improve this year.

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