Egypt's Sharm welcomes first UK flights since 2015 attack
Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh has welcomed the first British charter flights since 2015, when the Islamic State group's bombing of a Russian airliner dealt a devastating blow to the Red Sea resort.
Britain halted flights to Sharm el-Sheikh following the attack, which killed all 224 people on board the plane that took off from the resort, long popular with British tourists.
After multiple airport inspections and visits by aviation security experts, Britain announced in October that it was lifting the flight restrictions.
"Sharm el-Sheikh airport received the first two direct charter flights... from London's Gatwick airport carrying 184 passengers and Manchester airport carrying 190 passengers," Egypt's civil aviation ministry said in a statement late Sunday.
The flights were operated by Britain's biggest travel agency, TUI.
The company has scheduled three flights a week between London's Gatwick Airport and Sharm el-Sheikh until late March, the statement said.
British budget airline easyJet said in January it would restart flights to the resort town in June.
On Sunday, flag carrier EgyptAir said it would start operating a weekly flight between London and Sharm el-Sheikh later this month.
British tourists have long been vital to the tourism industry in Sharm el-Sheikh, which was left reeling after the airliner bombing.
Egypt has since sought to lure tourists back, boosting airport security and allowing international inspections of security procedures there.
Russia, another major source of tourists to Egypt, initially suspended all direct flights to the North African country following the attack.
It resumed direct flights to Cairo in 2018 but has yet to restart them to popular Red Sea resorts.
Egypt's tourism industry has shown signs of recovery in recent years with arrivals reaching 11.3 million in 2018, compared with 5.3 million in 2016.
© 2020 AFP