EasyJet’s plans to run “rescue” flights out of Sharm el-Sheikh have been halted by Egyptian authorities, with the airline now urging customers to extend their stay for at least two more days.
The budget airline had been planning to start flying some of the 20,000 Brits who have been stranded in the popular holiday destination since the government imposed a ban on all flights following a crash at the weekend, which is now thought to have been caused by a bomb on the plane.
Egypt’s tourism minister Hisham Zaazou told the World at One the suspension had been brought because of unspecified “logistics”, insisting it was not diplomatic revenge for the UK government’s actions.
Around 3,500 Britons were expecting to come home today, with heavy restrictions including no hold luggage being taken with them, including wheelchairs and prams.
One EasyJet flight has left with 180 people on board, bound for Gatwick, but only one other flight is expected to depart today. Just one British Airways flight has left for Gatwick, while five Monarch planes have left for the UK.
EasyJet said: “We’re sorry to inform passengers that our rescue plans that were put in place yesterday have been suspended by the Egyptian authorities.
“Discussions are currently on-going at the highest political level to resolve this situation. We are very sorry and understand that this is extremely frustrating for our passengers – unfortunately the situation is outside of easyJet’s control.”
The airline said the situation was “extremely fluid”, acknowledging it was “extremely frustrating”, and said it was working with both the UK and Egyptian governments to find a solution.
EasyJet urged customers to stay in their hotels, and try to extend their stay for a further two days if they had been planning to check out in the next 48 hours.
“If you are unable to hold your accommodation, please go to the airport and find a member of the EasyJet staff who will help you,” it said. “Please be assured that EasyJet will cover the costs of additional accommodation and reasonable expenses.”