TUI Returns To Sharm el Sheikh As Travel Restrictions Are Lifted

UK tour operator TUI recently re-launched flights to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt. Restrictions on flights to the popular holiday resort were imposed in November 2015 after a terrorist attack killed 224 people aboard a Metrojet Airbus A321.

TUI jet
TUI has returned to Sharm el Sheikh for the first time in five years. Photo: Getty Images

On Sunday 16 February, TUI’s first flight from the UK to Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt touched down. Upon their arrival, passengers aboard the flight were greeted by a water salute and a reception complete with cocktails and local dignitaries, according to reports by Mail Online.

The re-launch of this popular tourist route comes after the UK Department for Transport removed restrictions on flights to the Sinai Peninsula back in October, citing improvements in security procedures in the region since the 2015 terror attack.

How frequent will TUI’s flights to Sharm el Sheikh be?

TUI’s flight on 16 February wasn’t just the airline’s first flight to Sharm el Sheikh since travel restrictions were put in place. It was, in fact, the first flight to go direct from the UK to Sharm el Sheikh since restrictions were put in place full stop.

TUI aircraft
TUI is the largest tour operator in the UK. Photo: Marco Verch via Flickr

Now that TUI has got the route back off the ground, it will be running two flights per week from London Gatwick to the Egyptian holiday resort. These flights will depart every Wednesday and Sunday.

Other airlines to follow suit

TUI isn’t the only airline that has relaunched flights to Sharm el Sheikh. From 29 February it looks like Egyptair will also be re-launching flights between the UK and Sharm el Sheikh. According to reports by Mail Online, easyJet will also launch twice-weekly flights from Manchester to Sharm el Sheikh beginning 7 June, as well as flights from London Gatwick from 30 September onwards. Russia is also gradually resuming flights to Egypt after it suspended all direct flights following the 2015 terror attack.

Metrojet flight 9268

The incident which sparked the UK’s decision to impose travel restrictions on flights to Shark el Sheikh was the bombing of Metrojet Flight 9268 on 31 October 2015. The Airbus A321-231 serving Metrojet flight 9268, was bound for St. Petersburg, Russia, but it was downed by an explosive device that triggered shortly after take-off from Sharm el Sheikh. All 224 people aboard the flight were killed as a result.

Metrojet Flight 9268
The terror attack on Metrojet Flight 9268 killed 224 people. Photo: Sergey Korovkin 84 via Wikimedia Commons

The subsequent investigation into the incident suggested it was highly likely that a bomb was placed inside the aircraft’s cargo hold before take-off, and then detonated mid-air, causing the aircraft to disintegrate. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s Sinai Province branch claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had been carried out as revenge for Russian airstrikes in Syria. It has also been speculated that one of the aims of the attack was to reduce tourism to the area.

According to reports by Anna Aero, the travel restrictions placed on flights from the UK to Sharm el Sheikh almost completely wiped out UK tourism to the area. Within the space of a year, UK visitors to the resort dropped from 1.18 million in 2015 to just 28,500 in 2016, all of which arrived via indirect routes.