الثلاثاء , يونيو 9 2020

More Britons expected back from Sharm

Media captionPassengers arriving back in Glasgow on Friday night described chaotic scenes at the Egyptian airport

The return of thousands of Britons stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh following the Russian plane crash is expected to continue over the weekend.

The Department for Transport said 1,400 people had arrived back in the UK on eight flights on Friday, and further flights are anticipated later.

UK-bound planes were halted on Wednesday amid fears the passenger plane was brought down by a bomb.

Returning passengers have described chaotic scenes at the Egyptian airport.

‘Violent explosion’

The Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Metrojet, was flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg when it came down in Sinai last Saturday, killing all 224 people on board. Most of the victims were Russian.

French aviation officials have told the BBC the crash was not caused by technical failures, and other French officials said the flight data recorder suggested a “violent, sudden” explosion.

Twenty-nine flights had been scheduled to return to the UK on Friday, but 21 were cancelled by the Egyptian authorities because of the build up of passengers and luggage.

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

Angela Downs and Michael Downs were among the passengers who made it back to the UK late on Friday

Britons are allowed to travel home only with hand baggage; hold luggage is to be flown back separately, officials said.

Easyjet said it planned to bring home a further 445 passengers on Saturday with two flights into Luton airport.

Thomson Airways added that two planes were currently on standby in Egypt waiting for slots to fly people home.

These airlines plus British Airways and Monarch accounted for the flights back to the UK on Friday.


Read more on this story

Returning passengers’ stories

Could IS have bombed Flight 9268?

How has airport security changed?

Putin orders all Russian passenger flights to Egypt be stopped


The repatriation comes as the government confirmed reports that earlier in the year a plane carrying British tourists into Sharm el-Sheikh had come within 1,000ft of a missile.

The Daily Mail said the near-miss, involving a Thomson jet carrying 189 passengers, happened on 23 August, and the plane had been forced to manoeuvre away from the rocket.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said its investigation concluded it had not been not a “targeted attack” and “was likely to be connected to routine exercises being conducted by the Egyptian military in the area at the time”.

Thomson said the investigation had concluded there was “no cause for concern” for further flights.

‘Traumatic’

A Thomson Airways flight bringing Britons back from the Red Sea resort touched down at Glasgow Airport at around midnight last night.

Brian Shaw, who was one of the first to leave the terminal, said of arrangements in Egypt: “Nobody knew what they were doing, the security was traumatic.

“We didn’t even know what was going on today until we were on the plane.”

Image copyright
AP

Image caption

UK passengers who arrived on an Easyjet flight into Luton airport on Friday were handed bags of provisions, including bread and milk

Fellow passenger Angela Downs, 44, said: “We left our hotel and waited in the airport for hours the other day to then be taken to a different hotel, so we’re just happy to get back.

“To be fair, we got out and people on a Monarch flight were in the departures lounge and got turned back.

“The resorts feel fine, but the airport is chaos.”

Hossam Kamal, Egypt’s civil aviation minister, said the decision to restrict luggage on UK flights had forced the authorities to reduce the number of flights operating because the airport could not accommodate more than 120 tonnes of check-in baggage left behind.

‘Logistical complexities’

UK investigators believe terrorism was the most likely cause of the plane crash, and that a bomb may have been put in the hold before take-off.

They have cited intelligence believed to be based on intercepted communications between militants in the region.

A COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room) meeting was held on Friday to review the situation.

A spokesman said: “We continue to work closely with both the Egyptian authorities and the airline carriers to get people safely home as quickly as possible.

“But the sheer scale of the task poses a number of logistical complexities.”

Image caption

Passengers arrived at Glasgow Airport from Sharm el-Sheikh late on Friday night

Passengers have been advised to take only essential items such as passports, car and house keys, money, medicines, and mobile phones to the airport.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said UK security officials were monitoring the baggage screening process.

He said the government was making arrangements to ensure the luggage would be returned to passengers in a week to 10 days.


Are you due to return from Sharm el-Sheikh to the UK today? If you have any information to share with the BBC, you can email

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

شاهد أيضاً

COPTIC SOLIDARITY LAUNCHES URGENT CALL TO END CRIME OF FORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF COPTIC WOMEN IN EGYPT

A Coptic woman, Ranya Abd al-Masih (“servant of Christ”), 39, disappeared in Egypt on April 22, 2020, …