SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) - The latest on the crash of a Russian plane in Egypt that killed all 224 people last Saturday. (All times local.)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a halt to all Russian flights to Egypt and told authorities to repatriate Russians in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh pending an investigation into Saturday's plane crash in the Sinai.
President Putin on Friday promptly reacted to a suggestion by the Russian intelligence chief, who said it was "reasonable" to halt the flights.
Neither Putin nor Alexander Bortnikov offered the timeline for the suspension or the repatriation.
SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Head of Russia’s Federal Security Service announced that Russian carriers must suspend all flights to Russia until the real cause of the last week’s Airbus A321 crash are being revealed.
|Alexandr Bortnikov, the Head of |
the Federal Security Service.
Julian Bray writes: 45,000 Russians are currently on holiday in Egypt, and will now be seeking to get home, by air, in addition to the 20,000 UK holidaymakers currently attempting to leave Sharm-el-Sheikh. There are approximately 10,000 Russians in the Nile Valley. It is expected that the Russians will claim priority on the available 'slots' which will add considerable operational complications.
British tourists (Saturday 7th November) will now have to wait for a few extra days as the Russian exodus from the whole of Egypt has substantially pushed back the UK evacuation as available 'slots' have been taken by Russian aircraft.
UPDATE: Friday November 6th 2015 12 noon.
John Casson, the British Ambassador to Egypt has just held a Sharm airport airport media briefing, having first been 'heckled' by frustrated Brits and all recorded on video, he confirmed that an Embassy team (of 12) physically at the airport, are working to get British holidaymakers home and "we are enjoying 'great co-operation' with the Egyptian Authorities." Local sources are also suggesting that an aircraft (thought to be Russian as they are still flying normal schedules had 'gone technical and was blocking part of a aircraft taxiway to the main runway.
Egyptian authorities are now suggesting that a limited number of flights to the UK (REDUCED TO 8) will arrive and depart. Controllers are citing the lack of available take off and landing slots, the massive surge in evacuation flights and a growing mountain of luggage effectively denied boarding. It appears no one has thought though the secure dry storage and onward forwarding issues that unaccompanied luggage entails.
It is in the hoteliers interest to let British holidaymakers stay on as there will be few if any inbound holidaymakers unless they are arriving at other airports and arriving by transfer bus or taxi ( both not recommended in the current circumstances) and the best advice is to remain in your hotel and await instructions. The EasyJet statement has clearly been taken at face value. Other carriers will be working under the same landing and take off constraints but will aim to get a few evacuation flight turned around. Clearly nothing of value should be left behind in the luggage.
UPDATE Friday November 6th
EGYPTIANS GET THEIR REVENGE ON CAMERON
AND NOW EASYJET SAYS BAN BRITS FROM FLYING IN..... as President PUTIN CAPS IT ALL WITH AN EGYPT WIDE BAN
FROM FLYING IN TO SHARM EL SHEIKH
[THESE ARE THE TWO EASYJET AIRCRAFT THAT HAVE BEEN SITTING IDLE ON THE TARMAC AT SHARM EL SHEIKH FOR THE LAST FEW DAYS.]
“This means that we will ONLYget 339 passengers home today.
- See more at: http://mediacentre.easyjet.com/stories/9537#sthash.Ev0ZQmGg.dpuf
MONARCH AIRLINES LINK:
DAILY MAIL LINK:
BBC WORLD LINK;
Julian Bray Aviation expert writes:
Some 25 Evacuation/Rescue flights start out of 'Sharm' today Friday (Nov 6 2015) for the estimated backlog of 3,200 stranded UK bound passengers. The flights will continue both day and night. They will however return to Sharm EMPTY, as there is still a ban on bringing in new tourists, until UK security teams are satisfied the new arrangements are working.
On the evacuation flights, there are restrictions.
As predicted by Julian Bray two days ago, only one small shoulder bag allowed, as the aircraft luggage/cargo holds will be sealed closed. Bulk luggage will be returned to the UK by an alternative route, at a later date. Additionally ensure your name, address and phone number is on a large sheet of paper INSIDE the case.
The UK Government suggested earlier today that any Airport or tourist destination that causes security concerns to the UK Government 'may find that we apply the same restrictions' which will severely and very quickly reduce the number of UK visitors to their country.
Aircraft over the next few days will work on a shuttle basis with the same luggage restrictions applied. Airport check security and screening has been substantially increased and now operates on 'European' standard. Be prepared for delays as this process beds in.
Any local airport worker or other person offering to fast track/ bypass security and passenger queues for cash, will be arrested along with any passengers who offer any form of payment to local airport workers. If approached passengers are asked to make this immediately known to airline staff, do not part with your luggage or pay to 'dodge' the security process.
The UK has been concerned about security issues at the Sharm airport for some 10 months according to sources. Information gained from 'chatter' on the internet between local jihadi factions, picked up by GCHQ who tipped off MI6 and with additional US security input.
It is thought the Russian Metrojet had 'an explosive device in a bag' added to already screened passenger hold luggage; i.e. after all regular tagged passenger luggage had passed through the screening process. Possibly placed by an airside employee with full security clearance.
Lufhansa group has now banned their Eurowings and Edelweiss operations from using the airport until further notice. Irish aircraft are also subject to a blanket ban by the Irish Aviation Authority.
UK FCO travel advice for the town of Sharm remains unchanged, meaning that Insurance refunds are still locked.
The 'no travel unless essential' advice only relates to the airport, not the town of Sharm. Irish Republic authorities still have a blanket ban on their aircraft. Some commentators have accused the FCO of being in the pocket of the insurance companies, and reluctant to quickly change 'advice', to release insurance pay outs.
The ABTA spokesman has also come in for a great deal of criticism from stranded holidaymakers, as it is suggested, they have been trying to downplay the numbers by allegedly quoting a figure of just 10,000 travellers involved. This of course only relates to reducing number of clients who book through an ABTA agent. In effect ABTA has little to offer, as any repatriation is handled entirely by the CAA and / or your credit card company under the Consumer Credit Act provisions,
Many travellers these days book directly with airlines and hotels bypassing ABTA High Street Travel Agencies using the Internet, so the real figure is nearer to 20,000 in Sharm itself.
The Egyptian Tourist/Holiday market contributes some $36 billion and supports over 2.9 million jobs. 1 in 9 Egyptians work in industries and services related to the travel/holiday trade. Since 2011, travel trade revenue for Egypt is DOWN BY 90%!
Russia leads the rush to Egyptian sun followed by the Brits, then the Germans, although the latter may get their beach towels on the sun loungers long before anyone else!
Our earlier post:
There has been a shoal of complaints from the in excess 20,000+ British holidaymakers, they've not had any news or notices from their holiday companies and no instructions about departing from Sharm, from their holiday reps.
It's a simple matter, they didn't have any information to give, until now. There have been major International developments tonight, and a meeting of the so called 'COBRA' ** Committee.
The British Government has now said there will be no further flights out of the UK to Sharm el Sheikh, and departing from Sharm el Sheikh is likely to be delayed until Friday (says a reliable government source) the earliest that holiday makers will be transported back to the UK is Friday, or at the end of their current holiday scheduled return date. We've also heard that the Egyptian Head of Security at the Airport has been sacked.
So bad news for those intending to fly out. However the Government HAS NOW ALTERED its travel advisory: Flying to Sharm El Sheikh is out. The one bit of good news is that travel insurance policies will now pay out, if you keep all your receipts. Airlines will offer full refunds, and optionally offer you seats to alternative destinations.
Essentially the UK Government has decided following detailed intelligence reports (possibly from MI6 agents, and not directly connected with the Russian Jet incident), there could have been an incendiary device [bomb] smuggled into the airport, and possibly introduced into outbound cargo consignments or luggage, post screening.
It could also be that a disgruntled lowly paid airport worker physically planted the device or that it was taken on board by a subcontractor such as a cleaner, caterer, ground staff, baggage handler, tug driver or a dozen or so other people who have access to the airport and airside restricted areas and caused the Saturday bomb to explode, with the loss of all on board the Airbus A321 - 200 (on lease from an Irish firm).
It has to be said that security at non-European Community airports isn't nearly as strict or well organised. Luggage may be left unattended, or Cargo consignments casually handled. Paperwork decidedly weak. IS militants are now widely considered to be the most likely culprits behind the Egyptian incident.
The current situation is that all UK airlines are effectively grounded until a team of UK security specialists - who have already flown out to the resort can make a security sweep of the airport - and decide if it is indeed safe for British Nationals to fly out of that resort, or its probably a bus journey to Cairo. Independent travel outside Sharm is dangerous and not really advised.
Until the results are fully known then enjoy a few extra days of holiday. The British Embassy is bringing in consular staff to operate out of the airport.
Here are a few stress busting tips to help you get through the next few days....
Try not to get too upset with your holiday rep or the hotel staff as they probably know little more than you do and probably just as stressed.
Practical measures, try and stay off Facebook, with mates, which in times of stress or unrest is little more than a rumour mill... and get your UK centred news updates from www.bbc.com this is a DIFFERENT web address to the one you would use inside the UK.
Collect all your important travel documents, money, passports, together in one small shoulder bag, keep it close to you guard it well.
Be prepared to leave in a hurry if conditions change, and an evacuation is actioned.
Time is of the essence in any evacuation, so don't waste time or hold up the process.
Your holiday luggage MAY have to be left behind. Anything is possible. Clothes can be replaced, so luggage, in an emergency isn't that important.
Keep your cellphone fully charged, and take it in turns to use a phone or tablet to get information. rather like a rota system, the idea is to keep the maximum amount of charge in your device. Just in case the power is cut.
Make certain your friends know where you are, stay together, be aware. Try not to take risks.
On the day of departure be at the pick up point on time, get on and off the transfer bus as quickly as possible, stay aware, anything unusual, report it, but stay safe.
At the airport don't wander off, ideally forget duty free, you need to travel light. Drink extra bottled water instead or you just dehydrate if the aircraft is delayed or diverted.
At the airport submit to enhanced body searches and if you have metal implants (eg: knee replacements) TELL SECURITY WELL BEFORE YOU GET TO THE BODY SCANNER OR X-RAY.
Once on board your aircraft try and relax READ the SAFETY LEAFLET, watch the lifejacket and Oxygen mask demonstrations and importantly CAREFULLY note where all the exits are. If the cabin fills with smoke, a line of floor mounted direction indicator lights will guide you to an exit.
Study the diagram for the removal of exit doors and if you are placed in a window seat next to an exit, you will be expected to manhandle the emergency exit door should it be needed.
Hopefully matters will be diplomatically resolved and the Egyptians can pick up their shattered tourist trade, but following the Metrojet bombing travel in this region will never be the same again.
** Cabinet Office Briefing Room A
Philip Hammond spoke after COBRA this evening and announced that we are now advising against all but essential travel by air to Sharm el Sheikh.
This evening the Prime Minister has chaired another COBRA meeting of which we reviewed all the information that we have available from a range of sources concerning the Russian airliner crash in Sinai at the weekend. As a result of that review we have concluded there is a significant possibility that crash was caused by an explosive device on board the aircraft
Earlier this evening we delayed the return to the UK of British bound flights that were on the ground in Sharm el Sheikh while we conducted a review of security at the airport. We have people on the ground working with the Egyptians, and I’d like to pay tribute to Egyptian authorities, who have been extremely cooperative throughout the day and who have moved heaven and earth to meet our demands on the ground.
Unfortunately and very reluctantly we have concluded that we have to change our travel advice and that we are now advising against all but essential travel by air to Sharm el Sheikh. That means that there will be no UK passenger flights out to Sharm el Sheikh from now.
Passengers who are on the ground in Sharm el Sheikh will be returned to the UK. We are working with the airlines and the Egyptian authorities to put in place emergency procedures and additional screening and additional security to ensure they can get home safely either on their original scheduled return dates or if they wish to leave earlier on an earlier date.
Although I should emphasise we are not changing our advice with regard to the threat level in the Sharm el Sheikh resort itself.
I recognise that this action will cause immense disruption and inconvenience to many people and I apologise to the people this evening who have gone out to the airport and then have had to go back to their hotels.
I also recognise the immense impact this will have on the Egyptian economy but we have to put the safety and security of British nationals above all other considerations. When we are in possession of information we will not hesitate to act on it in order to protect that security and we will take whatever criticisms we receive. We have to act in the interest of British nationals.
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Aviation Expert, Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 (ALL CODECS) e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 iPhone 0743 530 3145 www.aviationcomment.com Contrib. Account #104764 53 FEED: http://feeds.feedburner.com/BraysDuckhouseBlog