Ten days after the four-year ban on flights to Sharm el Sheikh was lifted, the UK’s biggest holiday firm has revealed its plans to return to the Egyptian resort.
Tui will wait three more months before resuming packages to Egypt’s leading Red Sea destination. The firm will fly initially from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham.
In November 2015 the Foreign Office banned UK airlines from flying to Sharm el Sheikh airport, because of security concerns. On 31 October 2015, 224 people died when a Russian charter flight to St Petersburg crashed shortly after take-off from the Egyptian resort. It is believed a bomb was placed on board at Sharm el Sheikh airport.
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Tui flights and holidays will go back on sale on 7 November for travel from February 2020, in time for the profitable half-term break.
Mark Hall, Tui UK’s director of product and destination experience, said: “Sharm el Sheikh was always a hugely popular destination and I am delighted to confirm that we are reintroducing the Egypt favourite to our winter 2019 and summer 2020 programmes.”
Tui’s restoration of links has been hampered because of the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 Max following two fatal crashes. The airline’s UK operation had five of the aircraft at the time of the grounding in March 2019, and was due to receive eight more in the for the summer season.
There is a worldwide shortage of suitable replacement aircraft.
In addition, the timing of the Foreign Office announcement, just days before the start of the winter season, made it very difficult for any operator to restore flights and take advantage of the pent-up demand from British holidaymakers.
A specialist operator, Red Sea Holidays, has contracted a Polish carrier, Enter Air, to begin flights from Gatwick to Sharm el Sheikh on 22 December. All-inclusive holidays over Christmas start at £832 per person.
In 2014, the last full year before the UK ban took effect, around half-a-million British holidaymakers travelled to the resorts on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Both Monarch and Thomas Cook, which collapsed in 2017 and 2019 respectively, blamed the flights ban for exacerbating their precarious financial position.
The Foreign Office still warns against all but essential travel to the south Sinai region, “except the area within the Sharm el Sheikh perimeter barrier, which includes the airport and the areas of Sharm el Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay and Nabq”.
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