People, Travel

UK Urged to Lift Flight Ban on Egyptian Resort

UK Urged to Lift Flight Ban on Egyptian ResortUK Urged to Lift Flight Ban on Egyptian Resort

The British government has signaled it is unwilling at this stage to lift its advice warning against flights to Sharm el-Sheikh—a year after they were suspended on safety grounds.

The measure was imposed in the wake of concerns about security at the Egyptian resort’s airport following the suspected terrorist bombing of a Russian Metrojet airliner that killed 224 people.

Russia and the UK are now the only countries to have restrictions still in place according to Egyptian officials who claim the UK is content with the overhaul of procedures at the airport, Sky News reported.

Among the concerns were random screening of luggage and a scarcity of security personnel.

The apparent improvements have prompted the UK’s travel industry to demand a date for direct flights to resume, as time runs out for them to be able to include breaks at the popular winter sun spot in their winter schedules.

More than 30 firms, including Thomson and First Choice owner TUI Group, Saga Holidays and Expedia, have added their names to the plea having lost out on crucial revenue from hundreds of thousands of annual visitors.

Egypt argues the situation is bizarre, as UK holidaymakers can still visit Sharm if they take multiple flights or a ferry from the fellow Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

But a UK government spokesman said, “The security of British nationals is our top priority and we took the decision to suspend flights from Sharm el-Sheikh in November last year to protect the traveling public. We keep aviation security under constant review.”

Rasha Azaizi, director of the Egyptian State Tourist Office in London, said this long-term ban on flights to Sharm el-Sheikh is now affecting many UK travel businesses as well as airlines and is causing deep consumer confusion.

He added: “We truly feel it’s time for the British government to make a decision before the crucial winter holiday season.”

The flight ban has proved costly for Egypt’s tourism industry, as well as travel firms and airlines that have lost valuable capacity in Turkey also this year because of safety fears.

UK airlines, including easyJet, BA and Monarch, have said they will decide on flights only when the British Foreign Office changes its travel advice.


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