Prime minister David Cameron today admitted that it could be “some time” before all UK tourists stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh are flown home after the suspension of flights.
He said it was “increasingly likely” a “terrorist bomb” caused a Russian aircraft to crash on Saturday killing all 224 people on board.
Speaking after chairing a meeting of the government’s emergency committee Cobra, Cameron said: “The decisions that I’m taking are about putting the safety of British people first.
“What we need to put in place is more security at that airport so it is safe to fly people home … I act on the intelligence. I act on the advice of experts.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said its security experts were working to resume flights between the UK and the Egyptian resort.
British Airways says services will run on Friday.
“We will be providing hotel accommodation and refreshments to customers in Sharm el-Sheikh who were due to fly to Gatwick with us today,” BA said.
“We are working closely with the UK government to find the best possible solution for our customers who are on holiday in the resort and those due to fly out from the UK.??
“We understand the current situation is frustrating; however it is out of our control and the safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority.??
“Following the decision by the UK government to suspend flights, the British Airways flight (BA 2560) which was due to depart Gatwick this morning has been postponed until Friday.??
“The BA2561 which was due to depart Sharm el-Sheikh this evening will also depart one day later on November 6.?”
Monarch plans to start repatriating its 3,000 holidaymakers stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh from tomorrow (Friday).
The airline will be operating three rescue flights in addition to its two scheduled flights on Friday.
All flights in to and out of Sharm el-Sheikh are cancelled today after Foreign and Commonwealth Office changed its advice to Sharm el-Sheikh, advising customers against all but essential air travel to its airport.
The revised FCO advice is only applicable to Sharm el-Sheikh airport and flights to Hurghada are operating as scheduled, Monarch added.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin told MPs it should be safe to resume normal flight operations “in due course” as security at the Egyptian airport’s security is reviewed.
McLoughlin said: “People should keep in touch with their tour operators. We will also have consular staff on the ground providing assistance.
“We have aviation security experts on the ground and will have arrangements to bring people home safely in due course.
“The airlines are working with us to bring their passengers home.
“No UK-bound aircraft will take off until it is safe to do so. We do not expect flights to leave today, but we hope to have flights leaving tomorrow.”
The decision to ground flights following the Metrojet crash had been made “on the basis of the safety of British citizens”.
The transport secretary added: “We still cannot be certain what caused the loss of the aircraft.
“But we are reaching the view that a bomb on board is a significant possibility.
“Were this to turn out to be the case, it clearly has serious implications for the security of UK nationals flying from Sharm el-Sheikh. We have therefore taken the decision that it was necessary to act.
“We are working with the airlines to put in place a short-term measure – this could for example include different arrangements for handling luggage
“Beyond that, we are working with the Egyptians and airlines to put in place long term sustainable measures to ensure our flights remain safe.”
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