Russian plane crash: UK will not allow passengers to fly from Egypt's Sharm el Sheikh airport citing security fears

Around 1,000 people are due to fly out to Sharm el Sheikh on 5 November with hundreds more on the following days

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 04 November 2015 19:41
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A handout picture taken on November 1, 2015 and released on November 3, 2015 by Russia's Emergency Ministry shows the wreckage of a A321 Russian airliner in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula
A handout picture taken on November 1, 2015 and released on November 3, 2015 by Russia's Emergency Ministry shows the wreckage of a A321 Russian airliner in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula

By deploying security experts to Sharm el Sheikh late on 4 November, Britain has taken the unprecedented step of saying to another government: we do not trust your airport security.

The UK will not allow airlines to fly British citizens from the airport where the doomed Russian charter flight departed until it has people in place to audit security.

Passengers expecting to fly home from the Red Sea airport late on 4 November faced confusion when they arrived at the heavily guarded airport. At 7pm local time, as the wave of flights to the UK would normally be preparing to depart, they were told their planes were delayed indefinitely.

Sarah Cotterell, who was at the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh preparing to leave, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We were in the queue for security - they left us standing. We’ve had very little information.”

Even if the all-clear is given, it is unlikely that those flights will be leaving on the evening of 4 November, simply because of the logistics of flights to the Red Sea. They are at the extreme end of the limits of hours for air crew.

The typical operation from Birmingham, Manchester, Gatwick or Luton flies out at 9 or 10am, spends an hour on the ground and flies back - completing the mission with little time before the crew run “out of hours”.

Indeed, on 2 November the British Airways flight from Gatwick to Sharm el Sheikh was delayed by fog and was obliged to land in Venice on the return leg so that a relief crew could take over.

Around 1,000 people are due to fly out to Sharm el Sheikh on 5 November with hundreds more on 6 and 7 November. At present there is no certainty about whether their flights will go ahead - though aircraft may be flown out empty to bring back returning holidaymakers.

A great deal of manpower is deployed by the Egyptian government on the “ring of steel” surrounding the Sharm el Sheikh resort area - the only part of the Sinai that British travellers are allowed to go. The airport on which so much of the nation’s tourist industry now relies, has an additional cordon. But evidently the British government has reason to believe that the security may simply not be good enough.

“Following the statement by No.10 this evening easyJet has overnight delayed two flights which were due to depart Sharm El Sheikh this evening. Both flights are delayed pending further advice from the UK Government. We are doing all possible to keep passengers informed and are providing hotel accommodation for all affected passengers."

“easyJet remains in contact with the UK Government and will follow any advice it is provided with. The safety and security of its passengers and crew is easyJet's highest priority. ‎

“The two flights currently in Sharm El Sheikh are: EZY8854 from Sharm El Sheikh to London Gatwick with an original scheduled departure time of 17:05 UK time [and] EZY2398 from Sharm El Sheikh to London Luton with an original scheduled departure time of 16:45 UK time"

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