UK

Egypt plane crash: Airlines cancel more Sharm el-Sheikh flights

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Media captionBritish Airways and Easyjet have suspended flights to Sharm-el-Sheikh as Theo Leggett reports

Two airlines have cancelled all flights between Sharm el-Sheikh and the UK until January following the suspected bombing of a Russian passenger jet.

British Airways flights are cancelled up to and including 14 January and Easyjet services to the Egyptian resort are suspended until at least 6 January.

Easyjet said the move was made to provide some certainty to passengers travelling over the Christmas period.

BA said the decision was made following discussions with the UK government.

Monarch, Thomson and Thomas Cook have cancelled flights until dates in December.

Flights were halted after the UK government said the plane crash in the Sinai desert, which killed 224 people on 31 October, may have been caused by a bomb.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption British tourists flew home on special flights from Sharm el-Sheikh

Easyjet said customers on affected flights could go to another destination, receive a full refund or get a flight voucher for future travel.

BA said customers due to travel on affected flights can claim a full refund, rebook to a later date or switch to an alternative destination.

The airline said it was keeping flights, which are scheduled to operate from 16 January, "under review".

It added: "The safety and security of our customers will continue to be our top priorities in any decisions we may make."

Easyjet said on its website: "We are sorry for the inconvenience this will obviously cause, but we hope that being clear with all our customers at this point helps you to manage your plans with more certainty.

"The situation is beyond our control and passenger safety will always be our number one priority."

Other dates flights have been cancelled until are:

  • Monarch - 19 December
  • Thomson - 9 December
  • Thomas Cook - 10 December

Security measures

George McGregor from London, who had been due to fly to Sharm el-Sheikh told the BBC it was "excellent news" - but Easyjet should have cancelled the flights sooner.

"We were due to fly out on 23 December for Christmas and New Year. Total outlay, £1,444," he said.

"Until today we could not get our money back to fund an alternative holiday, and faced a charge of £180 if we wanted to change flights."

Image copyright AP
Image caption The arrivals hall at Sharm el-Sheikh airport has been empty of tourists

Ian Harrison, also from London, said he was first told he would only receive an exchange of flights but Easyjet has since offered him a refund.

"It was pretty hard to get alternative accommodation that close to Christmas, or alternative flights, so not much of an offer.

"I've pretty much cancelled my holiday."

'Value judgement'

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said decisions over the use of Sharm el-Sheikh airport were made by the UK authorities rather than airlines.

It said flights would only resume when the authorities were satisfied security was strong enough.

ABTA spokesman Sean Tipton said: "The airlines are setting dates to give people a bit of certainty on where they stand.

"The decision is not theirs about when the airport will be available again to use and there will be a degree of inconsistency in their policies because it is a value judgement."

The Foreign Office, which advises against all but essential air travel to or from Sharm el-Sheikh, says there are currently no UK airlines operating flights to the resort.

Regular flights between the UK and Sharm el-Sheikh were were suspended on 4 November.

Special security measures for flights returning to the UK, such as transporting hold baggage on separate planes, were put in place up to 17 November.

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for bringing down the Airbus 321, operated by Russian airline Metrojet.


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