UK lifts four-year ban on flights to Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh

UK government on Tuesday lifted restrictions on flights to the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Commercial flights to the airport were banned in November 2015, soon after a Russian Metrojet airliner that had departed from Sharm el-Sheikh was crashed.

International investigators discovered that a bomb was smuggled onboard, putting the airport’s security procedures under suspicion.

UK government said improved security procedures, and close cooperation with Egypt on aviation security, meant commercial airlines could now be allowed to operate flights.

Sharm el-Sheikh had previously been one of the most popular holiday destinations with Britons, in particular for the chance of winter sun at the biggest Red Sea resort.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said: “We look forward to services to Sharm el-Sheikh resuming and lifting the restriction is the first step in that process.

“The safety and security of British nationals remains our top priority and this decision follows close cooperation between our aviation security experts and their Egyptian counterparts, and improvements in security procedures at the airport.

“We will now work closely with airlines who wish to resume flights to and from the airport.”

The holiday firm TUI is among those expected to start resuming flights as soon as practicable, although the first services are likely to be in summer 2020, at the earliest.

The travel association Abta welcomed the move. A spokesperson said: “Sharm el-Sheikh has been a very popular destination for UK holidaymakers in the past, before the restrictions were in place. The news is also positive for the local economy in this region of Egypt that is reliant on the benefits travel and tourism bring.”

The destruction of Metrojet flight 9628 on 31 October 2015 killed 224 people, mainly Russian holidaymakers. Tens of thousands of Russian, German and British tourists were still in the resort and were brought home on specially approved flights carrying only hand luggage during the subsequent security operation.

Germany lifted its flight ban the following year but Britain has only permitted flights to other Egyptian airports until now.

Source: The Guardian