Although pressed by the media for a rationale, neither airline offered any specific threat at the time of their separate announcements.
Lufthansa has canceled flights from Frankfurt and Munich to Cairo but says it will resume flights on Sunday. British Airways earlier said it would suspend flights to Cairo for seven days.
European Concerns Over Iran?
When asked why flights to Cairo were suspended and what security arrangements they were reviewing, a British Airways spokesman said, “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.”
So what actually prompted this decision to suspend Cairo flights?
According to BBC News, the UK Foreign Office said that “there’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. Additional security measures are in place for flights departing from Egypt to the UK.”
It is thought by many that the response comes as Britain is concerned with Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. This, along with rising concerns stemming from US sanctions’ effect on Iran’s economy and oil exports, have created a heightened level of caution.
Egypt’s Recent Aviation Attacks
Egypt relies on tourism as a key source of foreign revenue. That industry has suffered after tourist numbers dropped following the Arab Spring uprising in a 2011 and a bombing of a Russian passenger jet (Metrojet Flight 9268) in 2015, which killed all 224 people on board shortly after takeoff. That jet was departing from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport.
That attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State, prompted Russia to halt all flights to Egypt for several years and a number of countries including Britain to cease flights to Sharm el Sheikh, which have yet to resume.
In May 2016, Egypt Air Flight 804 bound for Cairo from Paris crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. This came just seven months after the Metrojet bombing. A local affiliate of the jihadist militant group Islamic State, called Sinai Province, said it had smuggled a bomb device on board.
Acts of terrorism have occurred on a couple of flights to and from Egypt in recent years. Now, something has prompted British Airways and Lufthansa to suspend flights, although they won’t say what.
Flights on Egypt Air between London’s Heathrow and Cairo are operating as normal. In fact, as of this post, EgyptAir has not commented on the cancellations of British Air or Lufthansa.
We’ll keep ours eyes open for any further developments.
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