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Brexit responsible for Sharm El Sheikh flight ban, says travel industry chief

David Cameron was about to allow UK airlines back to Egypt’s premier resort, but resigned as prime minister after Leave vote

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 09 November 2017 12:11 GMT
Egypt Tourism Minister comments on tourism levels to Sharm el Sheikh in light of terror

Brexit is responsible for the continuing flight ban from the UK to Sharm El Sheikh, a leading tourism figure has claimed.

For two years, British airlines have been banned from flying to Egypt’s leading tourist resort. The prohibition was brought in five days after a crash on 31 October 2015. It is thought that a bomb was placed on board a Russian jet at Sharm El Sheikh airport: 224 people died when their Metrojet charter flight from to St Petersburg in Russia crashed in the Sinai desert.

The UK Government took the unprecedented step of banning British airlines from flying from the Red Sea airport.

Other countries have removed their bans on flying, and there are frequent flights to Sharm El Sheikh from Germany, Italy, Switzerland and other European countries.

Restrictions on flights to Egypt were partly blamed for the demise of Monarch Airlines last month.

The Egyptian authorities have lobbied vigorously for flights to restart, but as recently as a month ago the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “We have to be mindful of the security concerns and the risks to the travelling public of the United Kingdom.

“We hold back only for good security reasons.”

Yet Gerald Lawless, chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council, told a conference in London that David Cameron was about to end the ban – but his resignation after the EU referendum put paid to the plan.

“David Cameron admitted to us at our summit in Bangkok he was about to allow it but it got put on the back burner,” said Mr Lawless at the International Travel Crisis Management Summit.

The Independent has had corroboration of this version of events from a senior travel industry source.

Egypt’s tourism minister, Mohamed Yehia Rashed, told The Independent: “The timing now is perfect to see the comeback of British tourism to Sharm El Sheikh.

“The threat that is currently in the tourism environment in general is not addressed to Egypt. It is addressed to every human being trying to travel. They put the fear into the minds of people to get them sceptical about travelling.

“People are sceptical to come to London, to Paris, to Barcelona, to New York.”

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