Sun, Nov 08, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Hundreds of travelers stuck in Egypt wait to fly home

AFP, GATWICK, ENGLAND

Hundreds of UK holidaymakers stranded in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh were hoping to return home yesterday after a handful of flights landed in the UK, although others were held up by logistical problems.

The UK suspended flights on Wednesday after saying it feared a bomb might have brought down a Russian jet which crashed after taking off from there last week, killing 224 people, warning about security at the airport.

Eight flights carrying about 1,400 travellers returned to the UK on Friday after restrictions were lifted, but tourists were only allowed to bring carry-on bags. Check-in bags are to be flown back later.

Yesterday, easyJet was due to fly two planes back from Sharm el-Sheikh, along with two from Monarch, two from Thomas Cook and one from British Airways. There were tears of relief as passengers landed in London’s Gatwick airport on Friday after days of delays, although about 2,600 Britons are still stranded at the resort.

Nicky Bull, a human resources manager, said passengers were informed of increased security measures around their plane.

“We were told when we got on the plane that the Egyptian army and MI5 had been guarding the plane. There was no way that anybody could get at it,” Bull said.

Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation Hossam Kamal said that only eight out of 29 planned flights were leaving due to the requirement that passengers take only their hand luggage.

He said the airport could not accommodate more than 120 tonnes of check-in baggage left behind.

Ben Khosravi, 27, who was on another easyJet flight which landed at London Luton, painted a lax picture of the screening process.

“The security at Sharm was horrendous — we had friends with lighters in their pockets, people were patting you down, but not asking you to get anything out, bottles of water being passed through,” he said.

“It was quite worrying how easy you could get through — you could pay people money to fast track it,” he said.

The UK government held a meeting of its crisis response committee in London on Friday to review the situation at Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

“This is a hugely complex operation,” a Downing Street spokeswoman 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,” she said.

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