Stranded Sharm el-Sheikh Britons due to head home

Published: Friday 6th November 2015 by The News Editor

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British holidaymakers in Sharm el-Sheikh are due to come home today after flights were suspended over a reported terrorist plot.

Airlines will resume services from the Egyptian resort amid tightened security, including a ban on carrying hold luggage.

The UK government suspended air links on Wednesday after a Russian plane crashed last weekend, killing 224 people.

It has been reported that British spies uncovered an Islamic State (IS) bomb plot in the region following the tragedy.

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was “more likely than not” the Russian aircraft was brought down in a terrorist attack.

The Government gave approval for flights to resume after a day of intense negotiations with Egyptian leaders and the airlines.

Downing Street said: “Our utmost priority is to make sure we have all the right measures in place to ensure that British citizens can return safely to the UK.

“The Prime Minister held talks on the situation with President (Abdel Fatah) Sisi and, following further discussions with the airlines and the Egyptians, we have agreed on a package of additional security measures that is being put in place rapidly.

“The additional security measures will include permitting passengers to carry hand baggage only and transporting hold luggage separately.

“Outbound flights from the UK to Sharm el-Sheikh remain suspended and the Foreign Office continues to advise against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el-Sheikh airport but we are continuing to work with the Egyptians to get back to normal service as soon as possible.”

EasyJet, Thomson Airways, British Airways, Thomas Cook and Monarch all announced they will operate to the UK today, including a number of “rescue flights”.

The restrictions on hold luggage mean that anything that cannot be taken into the aircraft cabin will have to be transported back to the UK separately.

Downing Street confirmed a team of British experts had gone to Sharm el-Sheikh about 10 months ago as part of a long-term approach to assessing security arrangements at the airport.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said hold luggage was “one of the big concerns” about security.

He added: “We have reassured ourselves about the way in which Sharm is operating, but we have put in place separate measures as far as people not returning with all their luggage.

“That will be returned separately and that will be repatriated to them in due course.”

Asked why it was necessary to leave the hold empty he said: “It’s one of the big concerns we had. Without going into too much of the information that we have received and had before, we think this is one of the ways of making sure the people who are returning are safe.”

Mr McLoughlin indicated that although the airport was inspected 10 months ago, different measures were needed now.

“Just because something was seen to be OK 10 months ago doesn’t mean to say it’s the same today and doesn’t mean to say that we don’t need to see changes that perhaps we didn’t need to see 10 months ago.”

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) advised holidaymakers to contact their airlines about travel arrangements.

“As a result of the current situation, holidaymakers travelling from Sharm el Sheikh airport will have to follow certain special procedures as set out by the Government, including restrictions on taking hold luggage and the size of hand luggage,” a spokesman said.

“Whilst it is appreciated this may cause some inconvenience, these procedures are being implemented for the security and safety of passengers and its important that passengers follow their airline’s requirements.”

Published: Friday 6th November 2015 by The News Editor

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