Philip Hammond spoke after COBR this evening and announced that we are now advising against all but essential travel by air to Sharm el Sheikh.
The Foreign Secretary said:
This evening the Prime Minister has chaired another COBR meeting of which we reviewed all the information that we have available from a range of sources concerning the Russian airliner crash in Sinai at the weekend. As a result of that review we have concluded there is a significant possibility that crash was caused by an explosive device on board the aircraft. Earlier this evening we delayed the return to the UK of British bound flights that were on the ground in Sharm el Sheikh while we conducted a review of security at the airport. We have people on the ground working with the Egyptians, and I’d like to pay tribute to Egyptian authorities, who have been extremely cooperative throughout the day and who have moved heaven and earth to meet our demands on the ground.
Unfortunately and very reluctantly we have concluded that we have to change our travel advice and that we are now advising against all but essential travel by air to Sharm el Sheikh. That means that there will be no UK passenger flights out to Sharm el Sheikh from now. Passengers who are on the ground in Sharm el Sheikh will be returned to the UK. We are working with the airlines and the Egyptian authorities to put in place emergency procedures and additional screening and additional security to ensure they can get home safely either on their original scheduled return dates or if they wish to leave earlier on an earlier date. Although I should emphasise we are not changing our advice with regard to the threat level in the Sharm el Sheikh resort itself.
I recognise that this action will cause immense disruption and inconvenience to many people and I apologise to the people this evening who have gone out to the airport and then have had to go back to their hotels. I also recognise the immense impact this will have on the Egyptian economy but we have to put the safety and security of British nationals above all other considerations. When we are in possession of information we will not hesitate to act on it in order to protect that security and we will take whatever criticisms we receive. We have to act in the interest of British nationals.
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