The UK government has announced that airlines will start flying holidaymakers stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh out today. A statement says that passengers booked on flights operated by British Airways, Monarch, Thomson and easyJet will be flown out some time today.
The statement noted that passengers will be able to board with their hand luggage only. Their checked luggage will be sent on separate flights. The thousands of UK-bound holidaymakers still in Sharm el-Sheikh will also be subjected to stringent security procedures when they arrive at the airport.
About 20 flights are expected to operate and will bring back 4,000 Britons. The mass repatriation comes in the face of an abrupt cancellation of all flights between the UK and the Egyptian holiday resort town on Wednesday.
The UK government said the suspension of flights was a result of new information it had received about the midair explosion which brought down Flight 7K9268 on 31 October. The Russian Metrojet airliner suddenly vanished from radar and crashed into the Sinai Desert north of Sharm el-Sheikh. All 224 people on board were killed.
Announcing the suspension of UK-Sharm el-Sheikh flights, prime-minister David Cameron explained that it was probably a bomb that brought down 7K9268. The decision to start bringing Britons back followed a series of discussions with Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, security personnel and the relevant airlines.
A government spokesperson said it was imperative that all the right security measures were in place before any evacuation of Britons was attempted. Although airlines are flying to Sharm el-Sheikh to evacuate Britons, the ban on outbound flights from the UK still stands.