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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced that it had lifted its ban for direct flights into Sharm el-Sheikh airport this week. The ban was imposed after a flight carrying 224 passengers was brought down by an explosive device in October 2015.
Before the ban, the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh was very popular with UK tourists, especially in the off-peak periods due to the promise of warm weather and cheap food and drink. The ban didn’t stop all British tourists from visiting the resort, it just meant that multiple flights were needed or that passengers had to take a ferry from the Red Sea port of Hurghada.
UK holiday operators and the Egyptian government have been calling for the ban to be lifted for more than a year, but the FCO remained concerned with security measures at the airport. The Egyptian Ambassador to the UK said earlier this year that Egyptian and British security teams were working hard to ensure that appropriate security standards were met.
While the FCO lifted the ban this week, it continues to advise: “There remains a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation in Egypt. Additional security measures are in place for flights departing from Egypt to the UK.”
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombing, which killed all 224 passengers on board the Airbus A321, on 31 October 2015. The aircraft, operated by Russian company Kogalymavia, was brought down soon after take-off. British investigators suspected that the bomber had access to the aircraft’s hold, as it’s assumed that the explosive device was placed in, or with the luggage, shortly before take-off.
News of the additional security and the lift on the ban has meant that Easyjet and TUI are already considering direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, but this will largely depend on demand from British holidaymakers. According to the FCO, before the terrorist attack in 2015, Sharm el-Sheikh had approx. 900,000 visitors in 2015, this number dropped considerably in 2016 and following years.
If you’re considering travel to Sharm el-Sheikh, or any Egyptian resort, you’re advised to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for up to date information.
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