British Airways has resumed flights to Cairo nearly seven days after abruptly cancelling services due to security concerns.
According to The Guardian the airline announced on Thursday (25/7/19) that it had “reviewed security arrangements”. As a result, it was satisfied that there was no cause to continue grounding flights to the Egyptian capital.
British Airways cancelled its daily flight to Cairo on Saturday, July 20th. This was in response to a security assay by the carrier’s own Cairo-based team.
“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority,” BA added at the time. “We would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so.”
Lufthansa cancelled its Cairo routes on the same day due to what its spokeswoman called an “unclear security situation in Cairo”. The German flag carrier resumed flights the following day.
Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to warn of a heightened risk of terror attacks in the area.
Reason for cancellation
As we reported at the time, BA described its decision to cancel flights as a precautionary measure. But it comes amid continued warnings issued by the FCO. The British government has for the last few years advised against any non-essential travel to the region.
Despite both BA and Lufthansa remaining tight-lipped about the cause of their cancellations, it is reasonable to suspect that some sort of “urgent intelligence” came to light that could not be ignored.
An active faction of Daesh resides in North Sinai. In recent months, according to dw.com, the offshoot has “claimed attacks on Egyptian security forces and the Christian minority”. It is possible that whatever threat BA responded to originated from the troubled peninsula.
The move brought condemnation from the Egyptian government. It claimed not to have been told about the decision in advance. The Telegraph reported Egyptian aviation minister Younis al-Masry as being “dismayed” by the apparent lack of communication between Egyptian airport officials and BA.
Al-Masry, “expressed his displeasure at British Airways’ taking a decision unilaterally concerning the security of Egyptian airports without referring to the competent Egyptian authorities”.
The aviation minister also voiced concern about the fact that the decision to suspend flights to Cairo had been taken on the findings of an internal British Airways security audit, rather than at the behest of the intelligence services.
British Airways reiterated that the action was taken following an assessment of the airport by its internal security adviser. But the airline failed to quell speculation that it had also received intelligence from government operatives.
Egypt has been in turmoil since the revolution of 2011. The political and religious landscapes are peppered with infighting and territorial conflict. In Sinai, a faction of Islamic militants continues a vicious battle with Egyptian security forces.
The FCO advises against all non-essential travel to the Governorate in light of Daesh-Sinai’s indiscriminate attacks on security personnel and civilians. Civilians are also advised not to travel by air to and from Sharm el Sheikh following the 2015 downing of a Russian Airbus A321-231.