UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that there is a "significant possibility" that Isis militants brought down the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula on Saturday (31 October), killing 224 people.
In an interview on the BBC's Today programme, Hammond said the UK "couldn't wait" for the results of an inquiry into the crash before acting. He said that the assessment was based on "sensitive intelligence" and that no UK bound aircraft will leave Sharm el-Sheikh until UK intelligence is sure that it is safe.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is due to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street today (5 November), was not informed of the Wednesday decision to suspend flights as he was travelling to the UK at the time, said Hammond.
Earlier Hammond told Sky News that holidaymakers in Sharm el Sheikh will start being flown home tomorrow: "We have emergency short term measures that will allow us to bring people back and expect them to be in operation by tomorrow. The measures will remain in place as we bring people out over the next week or 10 days," he told Sky News.
He said that in the longer term experts will seek to tighten security procedures at the airport so that normal flights can resume. But he warned: "That could take days, it could take weeks ... it depends on the experts.
There are an estimated 20,000 UK citizens currently stranded in the Red Sea resort. Previously UK and US officials said a bomb may have brought down the Russian plane. Egypt has dismissed claims that Isis militants brought down the plane.