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British Airways suspends flights to Cairo on security grounds

Though BA did not specify what security issue was, in travel advice for British nationals, Foreign Office in London warns: 'There's a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation'
Passengers about to board BA flight to Cairo from London's Heathrow Airport were told that it was cancelled (AFP/file photo)

British Airways said on Saturday it had suspended flights to Cairo for seven days as a precautionary measure following a security review.

Passengers about to board a BA flight to the city from London's Heathrow Airport were told that it was cancelled and that there would be no alternative flights for a week, the BBC said. The airline did not specify what the security issue was.

The flag carrier said it would not operate its aircraft unless it felt it was safe to do so, AFP reported.

"We constantly review our security arrangements at all our airports around the world, and have suspended flights to Cairo for seven days as a precaution to allow for further assessment," BA said in a statement. "The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so."

Some affected passengers posted pictures on social media appearing to show a letter handed out by BA with a similar message.

A spokeswoman for the airline said it could not immediately offer more information about the suspensions. Reuters said the Egypt State Information Service could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesman for Cairo airport told the BBC the airport had yet to be notified by BA of any such changes.

Three Egyptian airport security sources told Reuters that British staff were checking security at Cairo airport on Wednesday and Thursday. They provided no further details.

Later, German carrier Lufthansa also said it was suspending flights to Cairo from Munich and Frankfurt just for Saturday without giving any reason. A Lufthansa spokesman said normal service should return on Sunday.

Security measures

In its travel advice for British nationals heading to Egypt, the Foreign Office in London warns: "There's a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation.

"Additional security measures are in place for flights departing from Egypt to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials at airports."

Britain advises against all but essential travel by air to or from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai peninsula.

"Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Egypt. Although most attacks occur in North Sinai, there is a risk of terrorist attacks across the country," Britons are warned.

"Terrorists in Egypt likely maintain the intent and capability to target aviation.

"The greatest threat is on the Sinai peninsula where Daesh (Islamic State group) operate with greater freedom, but terrorists are active in mainland Egypt, including Cairo," it said.

The Foreign Office warns that it "can't offer advice on the safety of individual airlines".

About 415,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2018.