Civil Aviation Minister Younis El-Masry expressed to Britain’s Ambassador to Egypt, Sir Geoffrey Adams Egypt’s dissatisfaction with BritishAirways’ unilateral decision to suspend trips to Cairo, the ministry said in a press statement on Sunday.
Adams apologised to El-Masry for not informing Egypt about the decision to suspend trips to Cairo, asserting that the suspension has nothing to do with the security measures in Egypt’s airports.
Both sides stressed that they will work on solving the problem, emphasising the importance of bilateral relations and passengers’ safety
On the other hand, German carrier, Lufthansa, resumed its trips to Cairo International airport on Sunday after it temporarily suspended flights–a decision that came a couple of hours after British Airways decided to suspend all flights to Cairo airport for seven days citing security precautions.
On Saturday, British Airways said in a statement that “the safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so.”
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office updated its advice to travellers to Egypt yesterday advising travellers affected to contact the airline.
Meanwhile, sources in the ministry of civil aviation told Daily News Egypt that the British embassy in Cairo asserted that the decision to halt flights to Cairo airport was not issued by the UK Department for Transport or the Foreign Office.
Sources said that Egyptian carrier, EgyptAir, would send larger aeroplanes to accommodate more passengers travelling from Heathrow airport to Cairo. They added that British Airways did not inform Egyptian officials of any concerns regarding security or safety in Cairo airport.
Thilo Schroeter, the spokesperson for the German Embassy in Cairo told Daily News Egypt that “the decision to cancel certain flights to and from Cairo was taken by Lufthansa itself.”
He added that, “the German Foreign Office did not change its travel advice to Egypt.”
Earlier Saturday, General Manager Sales Egypt at Lufthansa Group, Sadiq Mohamed, told Daily News Egypt that the departing flights on Sunday morning LH587 and LH585 will not operate and that the suspension is temporary.
A spokesperson at the British embassy in Cairo told Daily News Egypt that the embassy is in close contact with Egyptian authorities, without mentioning any further details.
Commenting on the incident, a member of the Chamber of Tourism Companies, Yasser Sultan, told Daily News Egypt that “there is no clear reason for halting the British Airways flights to Cairo airport.”
He added that the reason behind halting the flights could be a political rather than a security reason.
Elhamy El Zayat, member of the board of directors of Egyptian Holding Company for Airport and Air Navigation, attributed the UK’s decision to halt flights to the escalation with Iran.
On Friday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized a British-flagged Swedish-owned oil tanker in the Gulf, “Stena Impero.” The IRGC citied “violating the international maritime regulations when crossing the Strait of Hormuz.”
El Zayat further claimed that he contacted sources from British Airways, and they confirmed that “the halting is not related anymore to security, and that the halting is due to their fear after the issue of Iran.”
He also claimed that he was informed that the British airline are also going to “suspend their flights to the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.”
However, until time of print, British Airways did not announce that they are going to suspend trips to any of the mentioned countries.
If the decision had been related to security measures of Egypt’s airports, the UK would have updated its notices and security measures for British travellers, El Zayat said. However, no such notice was issued as the UK still only warns its travellers from traveling to north Sinai.
According to the latest figures of the UK`s Foreign Office, an estimated 415,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2018, whose majority of visits are trouble free.