UK airlines soon will be able to join their EU counterparts and offer services to Sharm El-Sheikh following London’s decision to reconsider the ban on direct flights to the Egyptian seaside resort airport after concluding the security situation is effective and all conditions to safely handle British passengers have been met. The UK government on Tuesday announced that it had lifted restrictions on flights to and from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, nearly four years after enforcing the ban in the aftermath of the downing of a Russian airliner October 31, 2015.
A Metrojet Airbus A321 crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula shortly after takeoff from Sharm El-Sheikh airport en route to St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport, killing all 224 passengers and crew. British authorities suspected a bomb placed in the hold before departure was responsible for the crash. Aviation Safety Network has classified the crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 as sabotage.
“We look forward to services to Sharm El-Sheikh resuming, and lifting the restriction is the first step in that process,” said secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps. Improvements in security procedures at the airport and close cooperation between aviation security experts of both countries led the government to lift the ban, he noted. He added that the government will now “work closely with airlines who wish to resume flights to and from the airport.”
In contrast to the UK, most other EU countries did not impose an outright ban or only temporarily stopped their airlines from operating to Sharm El-Sheikh, but these restrictions have all long been lifted and the airport is part of the route network of leisure carriers across the continent. UK airlines such as TUI, British Airways, and easyJet currently fly from UK gateways to other airports in Egypt.
The safety and security of British nationals remain “our top priority,” Shapps commented.