British Airways flights to Cairo resume after security review

The British airline and Lufthansa suspended flights last week to the Egyptian capital

BA, British Airways, Rollout, Roll Out Paint, A380. Courtesy British Airways *** Local Caption ***  bz28de-LIFEexectravel.jpg
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British Airways has resumed flights to Cairo, a week after they were suspended for security concerns.

In a statement on Thursday evening, the airline said: "Following a thorough assessment of the security arrangements, we are pleased that our service to and from Cairo will resume from Friday 26 July.”

On July 20, the airline stopped all flights to Cairo “as a security precaution” for a week so it could review safety at the airport in the Egyptian capital. It provided little detail as to why it suspended operations to the city.

German carrier Lufthansa also followed the move, but the airline resumed flights a day later.

Egypt’s aviation minister, Younis Al-Masry, said he was “disappointed” with the airlines’ decision to suspend flights to Cairo.

The British government has strong warnings in place for nationals looking to travel to Egypt.

In its current advice, the Britain's Foreign Office says "there is a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation" in the country.

It also advises against all travel to the Governorate of South Sinai, except the area within the Sharm el Sheikh perimeter barrier, which includes the airport and the areas of Sharm el Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay and Nabq. It also warns not to travel to the area west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions, excluding the coastal areas between the Nile Delta and Marsa Matruh.

As well as this, it advises against travelling by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh, once a popular destination for British holiday makers.

The foreign office issued advice after a Russian airline flying to the Red Sea resort was bombed while it was airborne in 2015, killing 224 people on board.

Julian Bray, a UK-based aviation security expert, said that the intelligence that led to BA’s decision apparently came out of Egypt and the airline acted on advice from the British government.

"The threat was obviously pretty real and aimed at particular airlines – because Lufthansa also withdrew their flights temporarily," he told The National. "It seemed aimed at British Airways, which is strange really as it's basically a Spanish operation now. It's British in name only."

Although it is the UK flag carrier, British Airways is owned by IAG, which is headquartered in Madrid.

Mr Bray said airline intelligence sharing happens on a daily basis, often through airline groups like One World and Star Alliance.

“Threat levels are virtually at the maximum at the moment, so there’s an extra reason to be very careful and observe all the security precautions and advice that you can," he said.

Although there is more intelligence sharing between airlines than there was before, it is in response to increased air travel and a higher vulnerability towards air terrorism, he said.

“Yes, there will be a lot of disappointed passengers, but most passengers on that route these days are Egyptian families or the relatives of Egyptians, not as much commercial or touristic traffic. It’s no longer a major destination because of the political situation.”