Ban on Sharm El-Sheikh flights is lifted

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Restrictions on flights between the UK and Sharm el-Sheikh have been lifted after nearly four years.

The Department for Transport announced that it has ended the ban due to improvements in security procedures at the Egyptian resort's airport and close co-operation between the UK and Egypt on aviation security.

Sharm el-Sheikh was a popular destination with UK tourists until all UK flights were banned in November 2015 following the bombing of a Russian airliner.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We look forward to services to Sharm el-Sheikh resuming, and lifting the restriction is the first step in that process.

(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

"The safety and security of British nationals remains our top priority and this decision follows close co-operation between our aviation security experts and their Egyptian counterparts, and improvements in security procedures at the airport.

"We will now work closely with airlines who wish to resume flights to and from the airport."

A spokeswoman for travel firm Tui said: "Sharm el-Sheikh was always a popular holiday destination with our customers and we welcome the change in travel advice by the UK Government.

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"We will reintroduce Sharm el-Sheikh, taking into account customer demand, and will now work closely with our hotel and airport partners so we can confirm more details in due course."

Airline easyJet said in a statement: "We are aware of the lifting of the restriction on UK airlines flying into Sharm el-Sheikh Airport and will look at any opportunities for easyJet and easyJet Holidays as a result."

Hundreds of thousands of UK holidaymakers went to the Red Sea destination each year before the restriction on flights was introduced.

The measure has seen the number of UK visitors dwindle as it forced them to either take multiple flights or a ferry from Hurghada.

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It was one of the factors which led to the collapse of airline Monarch in October 2017.

Speaking 12 months' earlier, then-chief executive Andrew Swaffield said the company's financial struggles began when flights to Sharm el-Sheikh were banned.

"That was really the moment ... it became clear that things were beginning to turn," he told delegates at a travel convention.

All 224 people on board the Airbus 321 operated by Russian airline Metrojet were killed in the suspected terrorist bombing in October 2015.

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Islamic State jihadis claimed responsibility for the attack.

More than 16,000 Britons stranded in the area were brought home on a series of rescue flights amid heightened security.

It has been reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will discuss resuming flights between the countries at a summit later this week.

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent