Has British Airways abandoned Sharm El Sheikh forever?
The announcement by the airline came despite earlier statements by a regional BA official that flights might resume to Sharm El Sheikh in September. (Facebook)
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British Airways has "indefinitely" extended its suspension of flights to the Egyptian Red Sea Resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, the major British airline announced on Tuesday.
A number of European airlines and governments banned flights to Sharm El-Sheikh over security concerns after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai in October 2015, killing all the 224 people on board.
The announcement by the airline on Tuesday came despite earlier statements by a regional BA official that flights would resume in September.
"The safety and security of our customers will always be our top priorities and we have suspended our flights from Gatwick to Sharm El-Sheikh indefinitely," the British Airways Tuesday statement read.
“Customers who hold bookings on any cancelled services for the coming winter season can claim a full refund or can use the money to cover a new booking with us for an alternative destination," it added.
Following the October 2015 crash, the British government halted direct flights between Sharm El-Sheikh Airport, from which the passenger jet had departed, and British airports. It has since deployed expert teams to assess security practices at Egyptian airports, but flights to South Sinai have yet to be resumed.
Several other British airlines, including easyJet, Thomson and First Choice, had cancelled flights to Sharm El-Sheikh for the rest of the summer.
Tourism, a pillar of the economy and a key source of hard currency for Egypt, has taken a blow since the plane crash, with Sharm El-Sheikh believed to be suffering the most.
The country's travel industry is believed to have been hurt by two other incidents, including a hijacking of an EgyptAir flight in March by a man wearing a fake suicide belt that hurt no one and the crash of an EgyptAir flight in the Mediterranean in May, killing all 66 on board.
Last month, Egypt's Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed called on the British and Russian governments to reconsider their flight ban.
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