Monarch refunds bookings to Sharm El-Sheikh, postpones resumption of service

Monarch Airlines, a British low-cost airline based at Luton Airport, is refunding bookings to Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh up to and including February 9, 2017, reports said last week.

‘There has been no change in travel advice from the UK Government, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for Transport (DfT) regarding travel to Sharm El-Sheikh Airport,’ the UK-based airline reportedly said in a statement. ‘With no update or indications as to when the FCO travel advice may change, Monarch has cancelled all flights to Sharm El-Sheikh up to and including February 9, 2017.

Accordingly, the airline will not be resuming flights to the resort for the full winter season as planned. The carrier was expecting to resume flights to the Egyptian coastal resort on October 30.

Flights to and from Sharm El-Sheikh has been severely disrupted following the crash of a Russian aircraft in October 2015, which killed all 224 people on board. The Metrojet aircraft had departed from Sharm el-Sheikh airport, and investigations have indicated that the aircraft was brought down by terrorists.

Customers who have booked flights on Monarch services to Sharm el- Sheikh up to February 9 can re-book to an alternative Monarch destination free of charge or obtain a full refund, Monarch said. The airline said that it is still taking bookings from February 10 until the end of April, but will review this in the coming weeks, subject to Government advice.

Monarch Group chief executive Andrew Swaffield said: ‘I am disappointed that again we have had to cancel bookings to Sharm El-Sheikh.

‘Much hard work has been done by the UK and Egyptian Governments, along with the travel industry, to improve safety measures at Sharm El-Sheikh Airport and we hope to be able to re-open this important holiday market by February.’

Before the closure of the airport, roughly 700,000 Britons visited Sharm El-Sheikh every year, making it a popular and important holiday destination for the UK travel industry.

Thomas Cook has also cancelled all holidays to Sharm el-Sheikh until at least Monday February 7, 2017, a report said.

FCO advises travellers to avoid travel to Tunisia

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised travellers and holidaymakers against all but essential travel to Tunisia, according to a release by Thomson and First Choice.

Following the change in FCO travel advice, Thomson and First Choice have cancelled all outbound flights to Tunisia for the summer season, which is up to and including the October 31. The Thomson Airways flights that have been cancelled include weekly services from Gatwick to Djerba starting July 22, and Enfidha starting July 26. The holiday company has also cancelled its weekly flights to Enfidha from Manchester, starting July 26.

Thomson and First Choice said that while they have no customers currently in Tunisia, as a protective measure the company will repatriate all British Thomson and First Choice staff currently working in Tunisia immediately.

The company added that customers who were planning to travel to Tunisia this summer, up to and including October 31, will be given the opportunity to amend their holiday free of charge to any destinations currently on sale, or receive a full refund.

Thomson and First Choice are now offering additional flights from airports across the UK to destinations including the Balearic Islands, Mainland Spain and Cyprus. Customers will be able to amend free of charge, and those choosing the new flights will be offered a £50 discount per person.

Customers looking to discuss booking to Tunisia have been asked to contact the travel agent, and in case of travellers who have booked their holidays to Tunisia online customers have been asked to contact their local Thomson or First Choice store.