COMMERCIAL airlines are said to be on a mission to rescue at least 20,000 Britons stranded in Sharmel-Sheikh on November 4.
The operation to return British tourists from Egypt is likely to take up to ten days. The government has cancelled all British flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh until Christmas after Downing Street said the Russian airliner that crashed at the weekend, could have been brought down by an ISIS bomb being smuggled into the plane.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said British officials and security equipment would screen every bag and guard planes in Sharm to ensure everyone got home safely. Mr Hammond said, “it was a possibility” that normal flights to Sharm might never resume. Britons were told to stay in their hotel rooms until they were due to fly home. Airlines or tour operators are paying for accommodation, meals and other expenses.
Mr Hammond said: “We have an immediate problem to deal with – there are 20,000 British people in Sharm el-Sheikh and we have got to get them back safely. We will do whatever is necessary. If we have to send in additional personnel, additional equipment.”
He continued: “If we have to have unusual handling arrangements we will do so. Regardless of the cost, regardless of the delay, regardless of the inconvenience.In the longer term arrangements have to be sustainable. They have to allow for the operation of normal airline schedules.”
“We will not resume normal flying activity until we are confident there are long-term sustainable arrangements in place that make flying between the UK and Sharm el-Sheikh safe,” he concluded.