Security concerns suspend all Sharm el-Sheikh flights by British Airways indefinitely. Following the downing of Airbus 321, resulting in the death of 224 individuals, in October 2015, British Airways has suspended flights for Sharm el-Sheikh. The Russian operated airline, Metrojet, crashed after an attack claimed by the Islamic State militant group.
Originally, British Airways had made a statement based on the advise of government that the flights would resume at a set date. With the continued warning by the Foreign and Commonwealth office stating that “As a precautionary measure, we are advising against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el-Sheikh,” they decided to suspend all flights indefinitely. This may cause some issues with those who are holding tickets for vacationing in the fall and, as the Sunday Express mentioned, may result in a significant blow to Egypt‘s tourist industry, which has suffered immensely with the continued threat of terrorism from IS.
The statement issued today declared “The safety and security of our customers will always be our top priorities and we have suspended our flights from Gatwick to Sharm el-Sheikh indefinitely.”
Other airlines have not claimed to indefinitely cease all flights. Instead, Itv stated that an easyJet spokesperson claims that they are committed to resuming flights to the resort. Adding that said flights would only resume once government advice changes, which will only happen if the U.K. government is satisfied that the Sharm el-Sheikh airport security is robust enough, as according to the Association of British Travel Agents.
Some airlines hope to resume as of the Fall/Winter season. Monarch has set a resumption date for flights to Sharm el-Sheikh for October 30, 2016. Thompson Airways hopes to resume as of September 28, 2016, but they await government approval as well.
Thompson Airways spokesperson stated that “We would like to thank our customers for their continued patience and apologise [sic] for the inconvenience caused whilst the current FCO advice is in place.”
Egyptian authorities reported earlier this year that they had made vast improvements to their security systems and measures. Including increasing the number of CCTV cameras and other measures, such as sniffer dogs, as reported by the BBC. This includes routine security checks for those entering Sharm el-Sheikh and police regularly checking vehicles in the towns of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.
Yehia Rashed, a former Marriott International executive and Egypt’s tourism minister, stated that they have put a lot of equipment in. “We’re training and retraining the people.” They hope to regain the trust of the FCO in the near future and reopen flights to Sharm el-Sheikh.
For customers with flights booked for Sharm el-Sheikh in the near future, British airways stated that “Customers who hold bookings on any canceled services for the coming winter season can claim a full refund or can use the money to cover a new booking with us for an alternative destination.”
Although this is another major hit to Egypt’s tourist communities, they still believe that this is a hurdle that they can surpass in time. Mike Bugsgang, chief executive of the U.K.-based Association of Group Travel Organizers, stated to the BBC in May that “It’s obviously an awful situation that’s arisen… it’s going to be a massive problem for the Egyptian tourism business, which is ongoing, particularly with the events that have taken place in the recent past.”
Even with the issues he still believes that they will bounce back, “although not in the near future”, with the continued support of the British travel industry.
For now, however, vacationers will need to find other locations for travel other that Sharm el-Sheikh.
[Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images]