British flight operator Thomson Airways has joined EasyJet and British Airways in extending its suspension of flights to the Sinai beach destination of Sharm el-Sheikh until 2016.
An Airbus 321, operated by Russian airline Metrojet, went down in October of this year, resulting in the deaths of 224 people. Responsibility for the incident was claimed by Islamic State (Isis) jihadis, who said they had bombed the flight. The UK government subsequently placed an immediate mandatory suspension of all flights to the Egyptian city.
Thomson had previously suspended all flights up to and including 9 December, subject to further review. The Luton company announced on 23 December that its cancellation will be extended until at least 23 March 2016. Other carriers have also extended their cancellations: EasyJet to 28 February, BA to 13 February and Monarch to 24 January.
Bob Atkinson, a travel analyst with Travel Supermarket, said the lengthy cancellation period indicated security issues at the Egyptian airport were proving difficult to solve. "I suspect they will come back at some point," Atkinson said. "The longer it goes on makes you think: 'Why are they delaying it so long if it's as simple as making sure security checks are in place?'"
He added that Egypt depends on tourism revenue and Sharm el-Sheikh is one of their major centres for holidaymakers, so authorities would do "everything within their powers" to give the UK assurance about the safety of its citizens.