British Airways Extends Its Suspension of Flights to Egypt

Egypt’s tourism sector does not seem to revive in the short term as the number of tourists fell 40 percent in the first quarter of 2016. The British Airways has also extended its suspension of flights to Egypt’s popular resort of Sharm al-Sheikh indefinitely, becoming the first major UK airline to cancel departures for the crucial winter season in Egypt as reported by Reuters.

Both the British and Russian governments have banned their airlines from travelling to Sharm al-Sheikh for  security concerns after the bombing of a Russian passenger jet in October 2015 killing all 224 people on board. Sinai Province- a group affiliated with the Islamic State- has claimed their responsibility for downing the Russian plane. 

In this context, British Airways said in a statement, “The safety and security of our customers will always be our top priorities and we have suspended our flights from Gatwick to Sharm al-Sheikh indefinitely.”

It added that customers with bookings will be fully refunded or can put their money on a new flight to an alternative destination.

Moreover, other British airlines as Monarch and easy Jet stated that they will not resume flights to Sharm al-Sheikh without the UK government advice on the safety of Flights to Egypt. However, they said that the British government has not changed its stance. Last month, Egyptian Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed called on the British and Russian governments to rethink their position on the flight ban. Monarch has cancelled all flights up to October 30, easy Jet for the rest of the summer season, while tour operators Thomson and First Choice, part of the TUI Group, have cancelled until September 28. Monarch said, “Should the travel advice change prior to 30 October, Monarch will reassess the situation and decide when to restart services to Sharm El Sheikh.”

Egypt’s tourism is one of the major sources of foreign currency in the country, that suffers from an economic crisis due to the shortage of foreign currency. The number of tourists fell 40% in the first quarter of 2016. In addition, Egypt has received a major blow in May when an EgyptAir plane crashed into the Mediterranean, killing all 66 people on board. The cause of the crash is still unknown.