Monarch hopeful Sharm el-Sheikh flight ban will be lifted

Monarch hopeful Sharm el-Sheikh flight ban will be lifted

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Monarch Airlines says it is hopeful the travel ban to Sharm el-Sheikh will be lifted in the near future following talks on a joint plan by the British and Egyptian governments this week.

Flights to the Red Sea resort were suspended last month after the Russian aircraft crash. Monarch has cancelled all flights to the resort until December 19.

Chief commercial officer, Adrian Tighe, said: “We are waiting for the government to give advice on when we can fly back to Sharm and once the advice changes we will react accordingly.

“A lot of people are due to go for Christmas.”

But he admitted demand was likely to be dampened by security and terrorism fears and could result in a reduced flight programme to the resort.

“Common sense says demand will not come back immediately,” he added. “We will look at customer demand and then react. We may end up with a softer programme.”

His comments came as Britain’s ambassador to Egypt yesterday vowed to get direct UK air links with Sharm el-Sheikh reinstated “as soon as possible”.

A government delegation of senior aviation and counter-terrorism experts has visited Cairo to discuss a joint plan with Egyptian authorities to allow British airlines to return to the Red Sea resort.

The two-day visit was headed by the prime minister David Cameron’s envoy on aviation security, Sir William Patey. 

Monarch is currently assessing the size of its flying programme for the Red Sea resort in preparation for flights to be resumed this winter.

In peak season it usually has 17 flights a week out of the UK, and around 13-14 in shoulder seasons.

Depending on demand some capacity could be shifted to destinations including the Canaries, Morocco, Cyprus and new destination Eilat, said Tighe.

Strong marketing will be required to help the destination recover, he added. “We will have to market hard. It has always been a competitive market.”

Tighe said Monarch was also waiting on government advice in terms of restoring flights to Tunisia. It usually has five flights a week into the destination from the UK.

“We would like to go back into Tunisia when the advice changes. Similar to Sharm we might have to start off with fewer flights but being first back in is important to us.”

The airline recently announced the new destination of Israel with weekly flights due to start on December 3 to Eilat and three times a week to Tel Aviv.


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