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POST TIME: 21 July, 2019 10:05:33 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 21 July, 2019 12:27:24 PM
British Airways cancels Cairo flights as security precaution
Independent Online/ theguardian

British Airways cancels Cairo flights as security precaution

Passengers at London Heathrow were handed letters from BA explaining the suspension of the Cairo flights

British Airways has suspended all flights to Cairo for seven days as a security precaution.

The airline made the surprise announcement last night that all flights into the Egyptian capital were halted.

A statement said: “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.”

Lufthansa, which operates routes from Frankfurt and Munich, said: “As safety is the number one priority of Lufthansa, the airline has temporarily suspended its flights to Cairo today as a precaution, while further assessment is being made.”

Lufthansa said is planned to resume flights on Sunday.

The airline said in a statement: “As safety is the number one priority of Lufthansa, the airline temporarily suspended its flights to Cairo on July 20 as a precaution.

Egyptian officials, cited by the Reuters news agency said Cairo’s international airport was notified by the airline that it was suspending flights to and from London for two days. Airport officials said the decision came after British security officials conducted routine security checks earlier this week.

However, Ahmed Fawzi, chairman of the Cairo Airport Company, told Egyptian newspaper Al Shorouk that British Airways did not inform them of any concerns regarding airport security prior to cancelling flights. He said Cairo airport had not received any notification of British Airways’ decision, and blamed it on “an internal affair inside the company”.

A second Egyptian newspaper, Al Masry Al Youm, cited Egypt’s ministry of civil aviation, which emphasised the one-week suspension did not mean a permanent halt to flights. Officials said the decision was one of “security and political measures that are concerned with internal affairs, and not those of Egypt”, and pointed to a series of upcoming of strikes expected to take place at Heathrow Airport.

The ministry claimed UK security checks last week, which included Cairo and Egypt’s second busiest Hurghada airport, resulted in “excellent ratings” for both airports. They said all other airlines were operating as usual at Cairo airport. Egyptair, which also flies between London and Cairo, said its flights were unaffected.

BA told the Department for Transport of its suspension decision ahead of the announcement. A government spokesman said: “We are aware that British Airways is notifying passengers it has decided to suspend flights to Cairo temporarily.”

The Foreign Office updated its advice to travellers to Egypt yesterday advising travellers affected to contact the airline. The FCO has warned against any travel to and from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, following the bombing of a Russian passenger jet in 2015 which killed 224 passengers and crew but has not issued similar warnings against travel to and from Cairo.

Egypt’s government has been pressing for a resumption of flights to Sharm el-Sheikh. MPs questioning transport ministers in parliament said Egypt has invested nearly £20m to improve security failings the UK government had highlighted. It also employed a UK-security firm, Restrata, to train more than 6,000 Egyptian airport security staff in a bid to get flights restarted.

“There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. Additional security measures are in place for flights departing from Egypt to the UK,” the British advice said. An estimated 415,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2018, according to the FCO.

Passengers alerted before boarding last night’s flight used social media to show a letter handed out by British Airways warning that security was behind the decision.

“Currently about to board a British Airways flight to Cairo and it’s cancelled,” one affected flyer wrote. “Not for a day. Not for two days but for seven. Security risk. Someone knows something we don’t.”

 

SI