Egypt defends airport security after British Airways and Lufthansa suspend flights to Cairo

Egypt on Sunday defended security at its airports after two European airlines temporarily halted their flights to Cairo.

The British Airways abruptly suspended all flights to Cairo on Saturday for seven days, citing unspecified security concerns.

German airline Lufthansa also said it had cancelled flights to the Egyptian capital while an evaluation of the situation was taking place, but said later that normal flights would resume on Sunday.

The move raised concerns in Egypt over potential harm to the country’s vital tourism industry, which was recently showing signs of recovery after a years-long slump.

A senior Egyptian aviation official criticised the flight cancellations.

“All Egyptian airports are well-secured. Security at them exceeds the standard rules,” head of Egypt’s Civil Aviation Authority, Sameh al-Hefnawi, said late Saturday.

He claimed that the cancellations were politically motivated.

“The issue has nothing to do with aviation. It is political. “Whenever Egypt is recovering, a fabricated crisis happens,” al-Hefnawi added.

In response to British Airways’ cancellations, the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation said it had increased the seat capacity of the national carrier EgyptAir’s flights to London.

The ministry added that it would operate an additional flight to London starting on Sunday during the suspension period.

In its updated travel warning for Egypt, the British Foreign Office referred to British Airways’ decision and points to an increased terrorism risk for air traffic.

The office warned against non-essential travel to Sharm el-Sheikh, wherein 2015 a bomb exploded on a Russian passenger jet shortly after take-off, killing all 224 people on board.

The bombing, which was claimed by the Islamic State terrorist organisation, prompted multiple countries to cancel flights to the Red Sea resort town.