Thursday 26 April 2018

Airline cancels flights to Sharm el-Sheikh until February 2017

Egyptian travel updates

Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh

Hugh Morris

Monarch is refunding flights to Sharm el Sheikh after extending its cancellation of services to the Egyptian beach resort until February 2017.

The airline was hoping to resume flights on October 30 but said that “with no update or indications as to when the Foreign Office advice may change” it has decided to postpone any chance of resumption to February 9.

It is taking bookings on flights from February 10 through to the end of April, but said it “will review this in the coming weeks, subject to government advice”.

The move comes a week after British Prime Minister Theresa May praised Egypt’s “ongoing efforts to improve security at Sharm el-Sheikh airport” in a phone conversation with Egyptian President Sisi.

Both the UK and Irish foreign affairs advise against non-essential travel to Egypt, although Sharm el-Sheikh is listed as an exception.

However, the Irish Aviation Authority has directed Irish airline operators not to operate to/from its airport or in Egyptian Sinai peninsula airspace until further notice.

The wreckage of the A321 Russian airliner in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula
The wreckage of the A321 Russian airliner in Wadi al-Zolomat, a mountainous area of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

The direction was issued following the crash of a tourist flight en route from Sharm El Sheikh to St. Petersburg shortly after take-off on October 31 of last year, killing 224 Russian passengers and crew.

All UK airlines have currently suspended their flights to Sharm el Sheikh, with British Airways announcing earlier this year it has cancelled flights "indefinitely".

According to Downing Street, the Prime Minister had “recognised the economic effects of the suspension” of flights, but there remains no date on the lifting of the travel restrictions.

Andrew Swaffield, chief executive of Monarch, said he was disappointed in having to cancel bookings again.

“Much hard work has been done by the UK and Egyptian governments, along with the travel industry, to improve safety measures at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport and we hope to be able to re-open this important holiday market by February,” he said.

Monarch, which is offering customers booked on flights either a refund or the chance to move to other dates or routes at no extra cost, is just one airline or tour operator forced to extend repeatedly its cancellation period as the Foreign Office travel restriction remains in place.

Some 700,000 Britons visited the popular season-round destination before the ban on flights.

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