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Sharm el-Sheikh: UK should end flight ban – Egyptian ambassador


Tourists enjoy the water on a beach at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, south of Cairo, EgyptImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The beach resort of Sharm el-Sheikh was hugely popular with Britonss but visitor numbers dropped after the flight ban

Direct flights from Britain to Sharm el-Sheikh should resume, the Egyptian ambassador to the UK has said.

Tarek Adel said Egypt had finished working with British security teams to upgrade its airports and was ready to welcome flights again.

All UK flights to beach resort Sharm el-Sheikh were banned in November 2015.

It followed the suspected bombing of a Russian airliner which killed all 224 people on board. The Islamic State group claimed it was behind the attack.

Sharm el-Sheikh previously attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors from the UK each year, making it an important resort for airlines and holiday companies.

But despite travel firms calling for a decision on when UK flights to the Red Sea destination can resume, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to advise against “all but essential by air to or from Sharm el-Sheikh”.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, broadcast on Saturday, the Egyptian ambassador said he hopes the UK government will decide to resume flights soon.

“British direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh have been suspended since November 2015 and 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,” Mr Adel said.

“We have concluded the work in this regard and that was in close coordination with the British technical teams and we are set to be ready to receive once again direct flights from Britain.”

According to the FCO, around 900,000 Britons travelled to Egypt in 2015. In 2016, that number dropped to 231,000.

The UK government suspended flights to the Red Sea resort following the bombing on 31 October 2015, which happened on a passenger plane soon after take-off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

The plane was on its way to St Petersburg when it crashed

More than 16,000 Britons stranded in the area were brought home on a series of rescue flights amid increased security.

Egyptian officials have since admitted that at the time in question, Sharm el-Sheikh airport fell well short of international security standards.

They responded to a January 2016 report about its shortcomings by allowing in a team of British aviation security experts who spent time assessing all of Egypt’s major airports.



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