Civil unrest in North Africa and the Middle East is having serious consequences for British holidaymakers, as airlines continue to suspend flights from UK airports to affected countries.
Earlier this month, Leeds-based airline, Jet2, announced a suspension of its routes from the UK to the resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada in Egypt. The cancellation, which comes into effect at the beginning of March, will see flights lost at East Midlands and Leeds Bradford airports, and up to seven other Jet2 hubs. The carrier says that protests against the three-decade rule of Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down as the Egyptian president on February 11 2011, were a risk to the safety and comfort of travellers.
The red and silver airline will increase capacity on routes to Spain and Portugal, equal to 70,000 extra seats, to compensate for the scrapped flights to Egypt. Customers who are already booked onto flights from the UK to the Red Sea region will have their money refunded. Discounts on future bookings will be available to flyers who have been affected by the airline’s escape from Egypt. However, the promise of a cheaper holiday in future has done little to appease travellers who have been forced to return to the UK. Peter O’Reilly, a retiree from Somerset, cut his trip to Sharm el Sheikh short by seven days, amid fears that he would be abandoned by Jet2 on the return journey.
Whilst the risk of further protests in Egypt has fallen with the retirement of Hosni Mubarak from office, Jet2 has yet to abort the March 1 cancellation of its flights to the Land of the Pharaohs. Conspiracy theorists could argue that Jet2 is using the Egyptian protests as ‘cover’ for a pre-planned exodus from the region. News agency, Reuters Africa, notes that British Airways (BA), Iberia, and Air France have also cancelled routes to Egypt. “The lack of demand made the services unfeasible,” explained the website.
BA, alongside KLM and Emirates, has also cut flights to Libya, as armed conflicts wage in the cities surrounding the capital, Tripoli.