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Europe’s two biggest airlines suspend all flights to Egypt

July 22, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Europe’s two biggest airlines have abruptly suspended all flights to Cairo, drawing a swift travel advisory from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the possibility that other airlines may follow suit, causing major disruption for travellers and tour operators.

British Airways said on Saturday it had suspended its flights to the Egyptian capital for seven days. It did not give any explanation other than saying it was for security reasons.

German carrier Lufthansa, quickly did likewise, saying it was suspending flights to Cairo from Munich and Frankfurt just for one day – Saturday – also without giving any reason. The moves come as a blow to Egypt’s attempts to improve security and encourage tourism.

DFAT issued an advisory yesterday (Sunday) morning, stating: “British Airways said on 20 July 2019 that it had suspended flights to Cairo for seven days as a security precaution. Other airlines may be affected. The level of our advice has not changed. Reconsider your need to travel to Egypt overall. Higher levels apply in some areas.”

According to an image circulating on social media, BA’s letter read:

Dear Customer,

 We are sorry to inform you that your flight from London Heathrow to Cairo has been cancelled. 

We constantly review our security arrangements at all our airports around the world and have suspended flights to Cairo for seven days as a precaution to allow for further assessment.

The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so. 

We apologise for the disruption to your journey. For those customers who are in the Airside Departure Lounge, please leave the lounge via Gate A15 and collect your luggage from carousel number 7. 

To discuss your options and collect a hotel voucher, please see a member of British Airways staff at Zone C. 

Alternatively, please contact us on 0800 727 800 or 0203 250 0145 or your Travel Agent.

 We apologise for the disruption this has caused.

 Warms [sic] regards, 

Souljit Bal 

Lead Customer Experience Manager

According to reports from the UK, a Lufthansa spokesman said normal service should return on Sunday, but British Airways would not be drawn on resumption date, though a seven-day suspension was envisaged.

EgyptAir is adding an extra daily frequency from Cairo to London to carry stranded passengers, Egyt’s civil aviation ministry said.

In its travel advice for British nationals heading to Egypt, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London advises:

“There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. Additional security measures are in place for flights departing from Egypt to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials at airports.”

The FCO estimates that 415,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2018, pointing out that most visits are trouble free.

It notes however that terrorists have attacked tourists in Egypt in the past, adding: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Egypt. Although most attacks occur in North Sinai, there is a risk of terrorist attacks across the country. Attacks could be indiscriminate, affecting Egyptian security forces, religious sites, large public gatherings and places visited by foreigners.”

Various intrigues and hostilities going on in the Middle East currently include Iran shooting down a US drone (and vice versa); Iranian gunboats seizing British-owned oil tankers; an ongoing dispute pitting Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Sunni Muslim states against Qatar; ongoing violence in Yemen; simmering tensions in Syria and Iraq; Turkey’s break with the US over Russian anti-aircraft missiles, and all the rest of it.

Written by Peter Needham

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