Egypt has renewed calls for the government to lift its ban on British flights to the tourist resort of Sharm El Sheikh, claiming it is causing serious hardship for businesses and employees.
Downing Street imposed a blanket ban on all British flights to Sharm after a Russian charter jet crashed in the Sinai Desert with the loss of 224 lives in November 2015.
British security officials worked closely with their Egyptiancounterparts to overhaul security at Sharm El Sheikh after it was claimed the crash was caused by a bomb placed on the aircraft by Isil-related terrorists.
Now Egyptian officials are calling on Britain to relax the ban after nearly every other European country has resumed flights to the resort.
“We find it difficult to understand why Britain keeps its ban on flights in place when virtually every other European country has given permission for its airlines to fly to Sharm El Sheikh,” said a senior Egyptian government official.
“The airport has passed every test set for it by British security officials, and it is now time for the government to lift this ban and allow British tourists to visit this popular destination.”
Scores of hotels have been forced to close down in the resort and thousands of workers laid off as a result of the ban, and government officials estimate the closure has cost the Egyptian economy, which relies heavily on tourism for its income, around £10 billion in lost revenue.
Egyptian officials say they are also confused why Britain has allowed flights to resume to Tunisia, where 30 British holidaymakers were killed by a terrorist on a beach at Sousse in June 2015, while the ban on Sharm remains in place.
“If it is safe for British holidaymakers to travel to Tunisia, then it is just as safe for them to travel to Sharm El Sheikh,” the Egyptian official commented.
Both the Department of Transport, which oversaw the introduction of new security arrangements at the airport, and the Foreign Office are understood to have recommended that Britain lift the ban on flights to the resort. But Downing Street has refused to act because of concerns over ongoing Isil-related terrorist activity in Sinai.