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Monday, 22 July 2019

Airport security in Egypt not reason behind British Airways suspension

British Airways’ seven-day suspension of flights to Cairo is not related to security measures at Egyptian airports, British ambassador to Egypt Geoffrey Adams told Civil Aviation Minister Younes El Masry yesterday, according to a ministry statement. Adams’ statements, which provided no further clarification, came after El Masry expressed his dismay over the decision being taken “abruptly and unilaterally” without prior coordination with Egyptian authorities. The flight operator justified its Saturday decision to suspend flights was justified “as a security precaution.” Germany’s Lufthansa also suspended its flights to Cairo from Munich and Frankfurt for a day, but returned to business as usual yesterday.

In fact, security at Egyptian airports is “at 100% efficacy,” British Airways’ North Africa regional manager Sherif Barsoum said, according to Sky News. “This is just a routine assessment” of security provisions on the company’s flights, Barsoum said. He reiterated that the move was not imposed by the British government.

It’s also not a political issue,an official from the British Embassy told Enterprise and other reporters. The decision was taken “by British Airways for the reasons set out in its statement,” he added. “There is no link to any recent assessment [of Egyptian airport security].” The UK and Egypt are international partners on aviation security, and “our latest travel advice does not advise against travel to or from Cairo airport,” the official said. The UK is “in close contact with relevant Egypt authorities and will continue to provide support as they work with British Airways on the matter.”

And it’s not the Algerian Afcon fans’ airport riots, either: Speculation was rife on social media yesterday with suggestions that the suspension is related to delayed flights to Algeria from Cairo Airport. The delay stirred riots by a crowd of Algerian fans in the airport’s halls early Sunday. Civil Aviation Authority head Sameh El Hefny has, however, denied the correlation in statements to CNN Arabic.

As British Airways refuses to back down, none else followed suit: Air France, Emirates, and Etihad Airways are continuing to operate flights to Cairo as normal, Reuters reports. Tour operator Thomas Cook also said the decision will not affect its weekly New Castle-Hurghada flights. Russia’s Aeroflot subsidiary Pobeda, meanwhile, is bucking the trend altogether and planning to launch new flights to a number of Egyptian cities, pending approval from Egyptian authorities, company CEO Andrey Kalmykov said, according to Sputnik Arabic.

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