FCO lifts flight ban to Sharm el-Sheikh

The government is no longer advising against all but essential travel by air to and from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office lifted its restrictions on flights between the UK and the Egyptian resort at 11.06am today.

Sharm has been off limits to flights from the UK since October 2015, when a Russian-operated Metrojet flight was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 224 passengers on board.

The Egyptian State Tourist Office in the UK has long been campaigning for a return of flights to the airport, saying that independent UK security firms have overseen a review into its safety.

Other European countries such as Germany and France have since resumed flights to Sharm, while the UK and Russian governments are yet to sign-off a return to operations.

At the start of this year both Egypt’s ambassador to the UK Tarek Adel and Peter Kearns, executive director of tour operator Red Sea Holidays, urged the government to relax its restrictions.

Kearns wrote to then prime minister Theresa May in February urging her to prioritise an “immediate review” of the ban on flights into the Egyptian resort.

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.

At the time of the flight suspension in 2015, Egyptian officials admitted Sharm el-Sheikh fell well short of international security standards.

But improvements in security procedures at the airport, and close co-operation between the UK and Egypt on aviation security, mean commercial airlines can now be allowed to operate routes to and from the airport.

The government will work with air carriers that have expressed an interest in operating flights as they develop their plans.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport 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 co-operation 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.”

A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “We have received confirmation from the Department for Transport that flight restrictions between the UK and Sharm-El-Sheikh have been lifted.

“UK carriers may now recommence services, and the Civil Aviation Authority will consider Foreign Carrier Permit applications from non-UK airlines wishing to operate routes between the UK and Sharm El-Sheikh.”

MoreOperator urges PM to resume Sharm flights [Feb 19]

Call for UK to Sharm el-Sheikh flights to resume [Jan 19]

Egypt shifts UK focus from Sharm el Sheikh to Hurghada [Mar 18]


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