British Airways, Lufthansa suspend Cairo flights on security grounds

British Airways suspended flights to Cairo for seven days starting Saturday as a precaution to allow for an assessment of security there, the airline said in a statement. (File/ AFP)
Updated 21 July 2019

British Airways, Lufthansa suspend Cairo flights on security grounds

  • Britain canceled flights to Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh in 2015 after jihadists bombed a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from the Red Sea resort, killing more than 220 people on board

LONDON: British Airways and Lufthansa both said Saturday they were suspending flights to Cairo for unspecified reasons related to safety and security.
The British carrier said it was canceling flights to the Egyptian capital for a week. The German airline said normal operations would resume Sunday.
Both carriers delivered two-sentence statements via email.
British Airways attributed its cancelations to what it called its constant review of security arrangements at all airports, calling them “a precaution to allow for further assessment.”

“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,” the airline 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.”

Lufthansa said it was suspending its flights as a precaution, mentioning “safety” but not “security” as its concern. A Lufthansa spokesman said normal service should return on Sunday.

Lufthansa spokesman Tal Muscal said the company has two flights a day to Cairo, one each from Frankfurt and Munich.

Company spokespeople would not elaborate on what motivated the suspensions.

Egypt’s civil aviation ministry said it was “coordinating” with the British embassy in Cairo and the local BA representative and starting an extra EgyptAir flight to London every day to carry stranded passengers.
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.
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 operate with greater freedom, but terrorists are active in mainland Egypt, including Cairo.”
The Foreign Office warns that it “can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines.”
An estimated 415,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2018.
Britain canceled flights to Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh in 2015 after jihadists bombed a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from the Red Sea resort, killing more than 220 people on board.


Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

Updated 37 min 31 sec ago

Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

  • ahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani
  • "How long can it possibly be sustained?”

LONDON: The former crown prince of Iran says the regime is cracking from within under the pressure of a wave of fresh protests.

Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last shah, was just 17 when he fled into exile with his family during the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the monarchy.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, he said the demonstrations, which have included chants for the royal family to return, show that the current regime may be coming to an end.

“The cracking from within of the system is getting more and more obvious,” he said. “When you look at the circumstances in Iran today, put yourselves in the shoes of the worst-off — how long can it possibly be sustained?”

The protests intensified in November after an increase in fuel prices. Vast crowds demonstrated in cities across the country before the regime cut the internet and killed hundreds of people in a brutal crackdown.

Large numbers returned to the streets this month, angered by the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet by the Iranian military, and Tehran’s initial insistence that it was an accident.

“The protests are very pervasive, in many sectors of society,” Pahlavi, 59, said in Washington where he lives. “They are all over the country. And a new development we haven’t seen before: the so-called silent middle class, which until now were not taking positions, are beginning to speak out.

“I’m not saying this is a guaranteed collapse. But the ingredients that get us closer to that point seem to be more prevailing these days than ever before.”

Pahlavi said he no longer has any desire to return to the throne, despite once being a rallying point for opposition groups after his father died in 1980.

However, he said he believed there could be a new Iran after the fall of the clerical regime and that his role could be as a go-between for the Iranian diaspora, foreign governments and opposition groups inside Iran.

“To the extent that there is a name recognition, I can utilise that,” he said. “I have no ambition of any kind of role or function or title. I’d like to be an advocate for the people. I don’t let any of this go to my head, I’ve been around too long for that.”

Pahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani “as a breakthrough that is positive for the region.”

He also backs the punishing US sanctions introduced when Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

He said he hopes one day to be able to return to his homeland.

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