British Airways suspends flights to Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh 'indefinitely'
British Airways on Tuesday announced the suspension of its flights to Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh resort "indefinitely" over security fears, in another blow to the country's beleaguered tourism industry.
"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," said the British carrier in a statement.
British operators had suspended flights to the resort in the Sinai peninsula in November after a Russian airliner was downed shortly after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the disaster, prompting fears that an explosive was smuggled onto the plane through the airport.
Security fears and the cancelation of flights deeply damaged the winter tourism season, the busiest time of year at Sinai resorts.
However, Egyptian authorities had hoped this year's season would fare better after spending millions of dollars on enhancing security at the airport, and reports that BA would reinstate flights in September.
Tuesday's announcement by the largest British carrier dashes those hopes, especially since other UK tour operators such as Thomson, First Choice and Monarch might take their lead from British Airways.
"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," British Airways added in its statement.
IS-linked militants have had an increasing presence in Egypt's Sinai region after the former Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown in 2013.