Two airlines extend flight ban from UK to Sharm al-Sheikh
The arrival hall is empty at the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in south Sinai, Egypt. Monday Nov. 9. AP

LONDON:  Holiday operators Thomson and Thomas Cook have extended a suspension of their flights to Sharm el-Sheikh until at least next March, dealing another blow to the Egyptian resort’s tourism industry.

The suspension was imposed after the suspected bombing of a Russian passenger jet in October that killed 224 people shortly after it had taken off from Sharm al-Sheikh airport.

British tourists at the resort were evacuated after the crash. No regular flights have operated there from Britain since Nov. 4 due to concerns about security at the airport and the British government is currently advising against all but essential travel by air to or from the resort.

Thomson Airways announced this week it was cancelling flights until at least March 23 and Thomas Cook said on its website it had cancelled its flight and holiday programme there to the same date.

British Airways has said it will not operate flights to the resort until after Feb. 13 at the earliest, while easyJet has stopped services until Feb. 29.

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for downing the Russian jet, saying a bomb was smuggled on board in a soft drink can.

Russia’s FSB security service has said it is certain a bomb brought down the Airbus jet, a conclusion shared by Britain and the United States. Egypt said earlier this month it has found no evidence so far of terrorism or other illegal action linked to the crash.

The British Foreign Office said on its website: “We will continue working with the Egyptian Authorities to enable regular flights between the UK and (Sharm al-Sheikh) to resume.

“We are also liaising with travel companies so that they are able to resume flights and holidays there as soon as appropriate security arrangements are in place.”

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