Sharm el Sheikh: demand to restart flights from Britain

Departures to Egypt’s leading resort ended in 2015 after a Russian airliner crashed shortly after departure

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Saturday 12 January 2019 16:43
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Sharm el Sheikh: Why is there a ban on British flights to the Egyptian resort?

Egypt has demanded that UK airlines should resume flights to the nation’s leading resort, Sharm el Sheikh.

The airport has been off limits to British carriers since November 2015. The ban was imposed by the Foreign Office five days after a Russian charter flight crashed shortly after take-off from Sharm el Sheikh.

All 224 people aboard the Metrojet flight to St Petersburg died when the plane went down in the Sinai Desert on 31 October 2015. It is believed a bomb was placed on board at the resort’s airport.

The UK government took the unprecedented step of banning British airlines from flying from the Red Sea airport, saying: “We advise against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh.”

The Egyptian ambassador in London, Tarek Adel, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Since that date we have been working very closely with British technical and security teams to upgrade many of the facilities in Egyptian airports in general and Sharm el-Sheikh in particular.

“We are set to be ready to receive once again direct flights from Britain.”

The Foreign Office says it is continuing to work with the Egyptian authorities to enable flights between the UK and Sharm el Sheikh to resume.

But a former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office who visited Sharm el-Sheikh following the bombing told the same programme that he would not travel to the resort himself.

Chris Phillips said Sharm el Sheikh “will always be at the top end of the threat level for holidaymakers”.

A leading tourism figure has claimed Brexit is responsible for the continuing flight ban.

Gerald Lawless, chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council, told a conference in London in 2018 that David Cameron was about to end the ban – but his resignation after the EU referendum put paid to the plan.

British holiday flights continue to serve other Egyptian airports.

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