TRAVELLERS face the prospect of a further airport security clampdown amid growing suspicions that a bomb smuggled on board brought down a Russian aircraft over Egypt killing all 224 passengers and crew.
Britain’s foreign secretary Philip Hammond said that security measures will have to be reviewed in areas where Islamic State militants are active if the crash is found to have been caused by a bomb.
His comments came as reports emerged over the weekend that a Thomson Airways flight with 189 passengers was forced to take evasive action after the pilot saw a rocket as it approached #Sharmel-Sheikh in August. According to the company, a Department for Transport investigation found it was probably a flare.
Flights which were delayed on Friday due to Sharm el-Sheikh airport’s inability to cope with new government restrictions imposed on hold luggage began operating over the weekend but many holidaymakers in the Red Sea resort face lengthy delays before they are repatriated.
While flights to the UK were limited, as many as 20 left for Russia on Saturday after Moscow followed the UK’s lead in advising against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el-Sheikh.
Approximately 3,000 British holidaymakers returned on Friday and Saturday, with some 2,000 put on flights on Sunday.
But a government spokesman said: ‘With a limited number of flights able to leave Sharm el-Sheikh each day for the UK, it is likely that tour operators or airlines will advise some people to extend their stay at their resort. We understand that tour operators and airlines are working to ensure that where people need to extend their stay at their resort necessary, costs will be covered.
‘The additional security measures we have put in place have led to delays to flights, and we understand the frustration that has caused, but our top priority will continue to be the safety of British nationals returning to the UK.’
easyJet says it has 2,500 passengers still in Sharm el-Sheikh due to limitations on the number of aircraft allowed to operate from the airport. The airline faces a backlog of flights with delays of up to four days.
Describing the situation as ‘becoming clearer, although no less difficult,’ easyJet told passengers stuck in Sharm el-Sheikh: ‘To help us to help you, we recommend you speak to your hotel and try and extend your stay for up to a further 4 days. We hope that most customers will not be delayed for more than that, but the situation remains fluid. Our plan is to bring home as many passengers every day as we can, and to prioritize those who have been delayed the longest. However, if the situation doesn’t change, this means that many customers may be delayed in Sharm el-Sheikh for between three to four days.’
All outbound holiday flights to Sharm el-Sheikh remain cancelled until this Thursday.
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