Talks about a return of flights to Sharm postponed

Theresa May flew to Sharm el-Sheikh for the EU-Arab League summit, but British tourists won’t be making the same journey anytime soon.

The prime minister was set to meet Egyptian president Abdel el-Sisi at the resort earlier this week to discuss an ongoing flight ban, but Downing Street said talks were put on ice for “logistical reasons”.

Brexit dominated the summit as the PM was accused by EU leaders of “sleepwalking” towards no deal as she faced cabinet resignation threats at home.

Red Sea Holidays executive director Peter Kearns wrote to May to urge her to launch an “immediate review” of the flight ban, in place since a bomb on board a Russian-operated Metrojet exploded in November 2015 killing all 224 passengers and crew.

Egyptian authorities have long insisted the airport is safe and say independent British inspectors have carried out assessments since the terror attack. Other European countries have resumed flights, including Germany, which returned in 2016.

Kearns said: “As far as I’m aware the safety concerns have been addressed.”

He said the operator’s Hurghada sales were up 50% year on year and put demand for Egypt down to the weak pound against the euro.

“Sharm will come back super‑quickly,” he added.

Egyptian State Tourist Office director Amr El-Ezabi said: “If the prime minster is flying there, you can deduce it’s safe for tourists.”

Labour MP Stephen Timms, co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Egypt, told the Press Association: “It’s high time to lift the UK flight ban.”

Thomas Cook said it would “look forward to flying customers” to Sharm if the Foreign Office relaxed its travel advice. Downing Street said: “We continue to keep [flights to Sharm] under review.”

Meanwhile, images emerged last week of a concrete barrier being built around Sharm. The governor of South Sinai, general Khaled Fouda, denied it was a wall, but told The Guardian: “The project will help Sharm el-Sheikh recoup lost tourism revenues.”

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