Thousands of Brits stranded in Egypt after flights from Sharm el Sheikh suspended

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Flights from Sharm el Sheikh airport to the UK were suspended Wednesday night.
Image: AP Photo/Associated Press

LONDON — Thousands of British travellers were stranded in Egypt on Thursday after the UK government halted all flights from Sharm el Sheikh to the UK.

Flights out of the airport were suspended Wednesday after intelligence suggested a bomb was the cause of the Russian MetroJet plane crash on Oct. 31, which killed all 224 on board.

Several different airlines and tour operators, including EasyJet, Monarch, Thomson and British Airways, were affected by the suspension, which will be in force all Thursday.

Services are thought to be hopefully resuming Friday, after extra security measures have been put in place, but Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has also said that “no UK-bound planes will take off from Sharm until we’re satisfied it’s safe.”

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) says that some 9,000 holidaymakers are currently in Sharm el Sheikh.

Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a COBRA meeting Wednesday night.

“The meeting considered the implications of a range of information, including some that has recently come to light, which has increased our concerns that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device,” the office for Number 10 said.

The ministers agreed that existing security measures following the attack, while improved, were not sufficient to guarantee the safety of British travellers and thus decided to suspend flights.

Consular staff have been put in place at the airport to ensure any passengers that were due to leave will be offered hotels.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived in the UK on Wednesday for talks with David Cameron.

Various tour operators issued statements following the suspension, including EasyJet, British Airways, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Monarch.

Most insurance polices will provide cover for travellers in a country at the time of Foreign Office advice change, ABTA say.

What’s the current travel advice?

The Foreign Office says there is “a high risk of terrorism” in Egypt. They advise against all travel to North Sinai, and all but essential travel to:

  • The Governorate of South Sinai, with the exception of the area within the Sharm el Sheikh perimeter barrier, which includes the airport and the areas of Sharm el Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay and Nabq

  • The area west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions, excluding the coastal areas between the Nile Delta and Marsa Matruh (as shown on the map)

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    However, the area to which they advise against all but essential travel doesn’t include the tourist areas along the Nile — Luxor, Qina, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings — or the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el Sheikh (but not via the airport) and Hurghada. Every year, 900,000 British nationals visit the country, and most visits are trouble free, they say.

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