Hordes of British holiday makers, who were hoping to grab flights back to the country, were stranded at the Cairo airport last night as the airport staff joined the protests against the Egypt’s president.
A number of British nationals were stranded in Cairo on Sunday night as the city,s airport got involved in the civil unrest sweeping through the city. Holiday makers, acting upon the advice of the Foreign Office to leave Egypt, found themselves high and dry as several flights were grounded as the airport staff decided to join the protests abandoning their posts.
Cairo International Airport was a scene of complete disorder as chaos reigned supreme with long queues of travellers snaking around the terminal buildings. The night-time curfew further added to the woes of desperate holiday makers as many were forced to bunk down at the airport. Several complained that the airport even ran out of basic necessities like food and water, adding to their list of wretchedness.
More than 100 people have been killed and over 2000 have been injured since the violent unrest against Egypt,s president began last Tuesday. The British Government had advised against all non-essential travel to Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria and Suez, cancelling all UK to Egypt flights and dashing plans of those who booked cheap flights to the destinations.
Even as the crisis deepened, few airlines were accused of exploiting the situation by jacking up the airfares of flights back to the UK over the weekend. UK,s national airline, British Airways was among those which have been accused of profiteering.
However BA insisted that there has been no revision of their pricing policy and accused third party vendors for spiralling tickets costs. Internet sources quoted BA,s spokesman as stating, “Tickets are selling at a normal price, we have made no changes to our fares policy.”
The spokesman further added, “We are trying to operate normally, but we have had to amend plane times to comply with the curfew.
“For this reason people should watch our website to get the latest information, especially as the situation is pretty volatile.”
UK,s low-cost airline BMI which is popular for rolling out cheap flights tickets announced that it hopes to get UK-bound flights away on Monday, but they also maintained that flights were subject to delay and cancellation and suggested travellers to keep an eye on their website.
But even keeping an eye on the website seems like a humungous task for the passengers with the restricted access to internet and mobile phones in the country.
British tourists were also critical of the Foreign Office,s response to the Egypt crisis after countries like India and United States announced that they were organising exclusive flights for their citizens.
Around 30,000 Britons are believed to be in Egypt with majority of them being in Red Sea resorts like Sharm-el-Sheikh, which is still untouched by the ripples created by the national protests.
Foreign Secretary William Hague maintained that he is keeping a close eye on the situation but also said that there was no need to send in special flights to evacuate British nationals yet. Mr Hague said that the Cairo airport is functional with flights coming in and out, but due to shortage of staff members the airport is not able to operate optimally. He said that the safety and wellbeing of the Britons is his top priority and also announced that he had sent additional consular staff to the airport.
Dominic Asquith, the British Ambassador to Egypt was quoted in online sources: “There are a lot of challenges at the airport in Cairo. That,s why we,ve got the team up there trying to help. There are flights going in and out but it is not orderly.”
Travel Operators Announce Cancellations
Different tour operators have announced several Egypt cancellations following civil unrest in Egypt. Thomas Cook cancelled all excursions to Cairo from Red Sea Resorts up to and including Wednesday. The company also cancelled outbound flights to Luxor that were slated to take off on Wednesday from different UK cities like Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester.