FILE – Sharm El Sheikh resort –Courtesy of Flickr FILE – Sharm El Sheikh resort –Courtesy of Flickr

UK’s House of Commons debate over resuming flights to Sharm

Fri, Dec. 15, 2017
CAIRO – 15 December 2017: The House of Commons of the United Kingdom held a debate Wednesday to discuss resuming flights to the Egyptian Sharm El-Sheikh resort. There has been a two-year travel suspension.

The debate was proposed by the conservative MP Jonathan Lord, the co-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Egypt, who demanded that the ban on flights to the Red Sea resort be lifted, saying that Sharm El-Sheikh airport has met the 25-point plan that was drawn up by the UK’s Department of Transport to ensure the safety of the airport.

The Egyptian government of and the hotel industry in Sharm El-Sheikh invested around LE 20 million to implement all 25 points listed. Moreover, according to Lord, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also issued official guidance that identifies the resort in the green category, which means it is a very low-risk area.

“Yet, despite the assurances from the Department for Transport and our Foreign Office, and with the UK’s 25-point plan now fully implemented, Sharm El-Sheikh airport remains closed to UK flights,” Lord said before the house.

Another conservative MP, John Howell demanded to end the ban, like Tunisia, saying; “The ban on flights to Tunisia, which is immediately opposite ISIL- infested beaches in Libya, was lifted, whereas the Sharm el Sheikh ban has not been lifted, although it was British expertise that helped restore that airport to its current excellent status.”

In November 2015, the former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, took a decision to implement a ban on UK direct flights to Sharm El-Sheikh airport following the loss of a Russian plane on October 30 that year. He declared that the UK would work with the Egyptian government and aviation authorities to ensure that Sharm El-Sheikh airport was safe before relaxing the ban, which has not happened ever since, despite the change of cabinet, and the several visits of British inspectors to check the security measures at the airport.

Russia, the only other country that imposed an aviation ban to Sharm El-Sheikh, has declared that it will lift the flights ban on the Egyptian resort, following the visit of President Vladimir Putin to Cairo past Monday.

The travel bans to Sharm El-Sheikh from Russia and the UK had a significant impact on the Egyptian economy, since British and Russian tourists are the major holiday visitors to the resort. Ever since the ban, hotels are operating at only 35 percent of capacity.
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