People, Travel

Airlines Stop Sinai Overflights

Airlines Stop Sinai OverflightsAirlines Stop Sinai Overflights

Air France and Lufthansa said Saturday they will stop flying over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula after a Russian passenger plane went down in the area with the loss of all 224 people on board.

The airlines said they were taking the measure as a precaution while the cause of the Russian crash was investigated, AFP reported.

The so-called Islamic State affiliate in Egypt has said it downed the plane, without saying how, but Russia’s transport minister said the claim “cannot be considered accurate” and an Egyptian security official said the plane did not crash because of an attack.

An Air France spokesperson told AFP they would not fly over Sinai until further notice, “as a precaution” while “clarification” was sought over why the Russian charter plane crashed.

Lufthansa told the German newspaper Die Welt it was taking the same measure for the same reason.

Military experts said IS militants in Sinai do not have weapons capable of hitting an aircraft at 30,000 feet (9,000 meters), the altitude of the airliner when it lost contact.

But they have not ruled out a bomb on board or the possibility that the plane was hit by a rocket as it descended because of technical problems.

A senior Egyptian air traffic control official said the pilot of the Airbus A321 told him in their last communication that he had radio trouble.

The Kogalymavia flight with 214 Russian and three Ukrainian passengers as well as seven crew members, had taken off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in south Sinai bound for Saint Petersburg.

Two air accident investigators from France — Airbus’ home country — are to travel to Egypt along with six experts from the aerospace giant to help with the probe.