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UK finally lifts flights ban to Sharm el-Sheikh

UK authorities have lifted a flight ban pertaining to services to the Egyptian resort of Sharem el-Sheikh, four years after imposing the restriction.

The ban followed security concerns after a Russian-operated Airbus A321 crashed in Sinai in October 2015 – a loss which Russian authorities believe was the result of sabotage.

UK flights to the resort have since been prohibited. The route had been served by carriers including British Airways and EasyJet, as well as leisure operators Monarch Airlines and Thomas Cook Airlines – both of which have since ceased trading.

Monarch, in particular, had highlighted the ban as being among the financial pressures on the carrier a few months before its failure.

But the UK government has worked with Egyptian authorities to address the situation, and it is lifting the restrictions from 22 October.

"Improvements in security procedures at the airport, and close co-operation between the UK and Egypt on aviation security, mean commercial airlines can now be allowed to operate routes to and from the airport," says the UK transport ministry.

It says the government will work with airlines which have expressed interest in operating services to Sharm el-Sheikh.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps says the lifting of the ban is the "first step" in restoring flights to the resort.

Safety and security of UK citizens, he adds, remains the government's "top priority". The Foreign & Commonwealth Office states that there remains a "heightened risk of terrorism against aviation" in Egypt, and additional security measures are in place for flights departing from Egypt to the UK.

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