Birmingham Airport announces additional flight to Hurghada for summer

UK holiday company TUI (formerly Thomson) is planning to introduce an additional weekly flight to the Egyptian destination of Hurghada from Birmingham Airport for summer 2018, the airport said in a release.

TUI is planning to add a Friday flight to its summer flying programme, offering nearly 5,000 seats to the Red Sea destination from Birmingham Airport. TUI’s summer flights is set to start in May 2018 and will now operate twice a week on Mondays and Fridays.

The expansion is part of the holiday company’s plans to offer increased choice for holidaymakers and travellers, allowing customers across the UK to fly from their local airport and stay at hotels such as the 5T TUI Magic Life Kalawy.

Karen Switzer, Director of Aviation Planning for TUI UK & Ireland, said: ‘We are delighted to be expanding our programme from Birmingham Airport for summer 2018. We have added a Friday flight to Hurghada meaning we now fly twice a week to the Red Sea destination and with this additional flight customers can now book 10 or 11 night holidays. In total we have over 62 routes for customers to choose from when booking their holidays from Birmingham Airport. Holidaymakers in the Midlands will now have wider access than ever before to our diverse collection of destinations and hotel concepts.’

William Pearson, Aviation Director of Birmingham Airport said: ‘It is great news that TUI is adding additional capacity to Hurghada for Summer 2018. This complements the 62 routes that TUI has to over 27 countries, offering even more exciting destinations to passengers flying from Birmingham Airport.’

In addition to the extra flights to Hurghada, holidaymakers from the Midlands now have a wider choice of destinations when booking their holidays this summer with the new route to Podgorica in Montenegro already on sale, the airport said.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport adds new TUI routes for summer 2018

Doncaster Sheffield Airport has said that it will add two new routes – Naples, Italy and Hurghada City, Egypt, operated by holiday company TUI, as the airport continues to expand its range of over 40 destinations across Europe and beyond.

TUI’s first flight to Naples will take off on May 7, 2018, leaving every Monday throughout the summer months, with services operational until the end of October 2018. The new routes will add nearly 20,000 new seats of capacity. The new flights to the Italian city are on sale currently.

TUI will also be operating a new weekly route to Hurghada, Egypt for those looking to book a holiday for winter 2018/19. Hurghada City is the second largest Egyptian city on the Red Sea and, with its world-renowned coral reefs, is one of Egypt’s leading holiday destinations.

Chris Harcombe, Aviation Development Director, Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: ‘We are thrilled to introduce this summer time route to Naples and a brand new route to DSA, in Hurghada City, Egypt. It is fantastic news for the local area, and for the wider Yorkshire region – with DSA now being even more convenient and well connected, thanks to the Great Yorkshire Way motorway link road and new direct bus services from Doncaster and Sheffield.’

Karen Switzer, Director of Aviation Planning for TUI UK & Ireland, said: ‘We’re excited that one of our first steps as TUI, a truly global brand, is to offer greater choice for our customers in Yorkshire. Introducing the new routes from Doncaster Sheffield Airport is a key part of our strategy to offer all our customers as much choice as possible to give them the holiday experience that best suits their individual needs. Holidaymakers in the local area will now have wider access than ever before to our diverse collection of destinations and hotel concepts.’

The two new routes – Naples and Hurghada – are in addition to the new TUI route announced in August from Doncaster Sheffield Airport to the Greek island of Kefalonia. The once a week package holiday flights will take off on Thursday May 3, 2018 and continue through until the end of September 2018, allowing customers to stay at the luxury TUI Sensimar Hotel located on the south of the Island. Flights to the Greek island are already on sale providing extra 4,500 seats for holiday makers flying from DSA, the airport said.

Thomas Cook announces new holidays to Egypt’s Marsa Alam from Birmingham Airport

Holiday company Thomas Cook has announced a new holiday service to Marsa Alam in Egypt from Birmingham Airport for holidaymakers from across the Midlands.

The new route to the Egyptian winter sun destination comes after the company decided to cancel its programme to Sharm El Sheikh, as the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to advise against travel to Sharm El Sheikh Airport.

Thomas Cook and Thomas Cook Signature holidays to Marsa Alam are available from November 2017 until April 2018. The holidays will operate on a weekly direct flight on Thomas Cook Airlines with a flying time of five and a half hours.

Located on the southern most of Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, Marsa Alam is a destination for winter sun seekers and is a premier diving and snorkelling spot, including around the Elphinstone reef.

Holidaymakers can also visit the Wadi el Gamal National Park and ‘Cleopatra’s mines’, known for gold and emeralds excavation. In addition, the coastline offers white sand beaches where dugongs and giant turtles are regularly spotted. 

Chris Mottershead, Managing Director, Thomas Cook UK and Ireland, said: ‘We are thrilled to be offering customers in the Birmingham area even more choice for a winter sun getaway to Egypt’s impressive Red Sea Riviera. We know how much our customers value their precious time away together, whether it is a relaxing resort based stay, or a more active snorkelling or diving trip. Our range of quality all-inclusive holidays provides value for money for that all important hard-earned break.’

The holidays on offer include seven-nights with fares starting from £589 per person, staying on an all-inclusive basis at the four star Sentido Oriental Dream, departing from Birmingham on November 27, 2017 as well as a seven nights package with fares from £555 per person, staying on an all-inclusive basis at the four star Sunrise Marina Resort, departing from Birmingham on January 01, 2018. Holiday prices are based on two adults sharing, inclusive of flights, transfers and all-inclusive accommodation.

In addition to Marsa Alam, Thomas Cook also offers holidays to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada and the surrounding area from Birmingham.

Flight only services are also on offer with return flights starting from GBP199 per person excluding luggage and other optional extras, available to book at www.thomascookairlines.com.

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.

Foreign Office relaxes Egypt travel restrictions

The UK Foreign Office relaxed its travel advice for Egypt last Friday, after urging travellers in July to avoid all but essential travel to the entire country, except for the Red Sea resorts, including Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab and Hurghada, The Telegraph has reported.

With the relaxation of restrictions, British holidaymakers can now plan their travel to destinations including Aswan, Abu Simbel, Alexandria and Luxor. However, the Office still warns travellers to avoid travel to large parts of the country, including the Governorates of Cairo (including Greater Cairo and the Giza Pyramids), Bani Suef, Minya, Asyut and Sohag.

The Office also advises against travel to the Sinai peninsula, excluding the Red Sea resorts, ‘due to the significant increase in criminal activity and recent terrorist attacks on police and security forces’.

‘Our travel advice for Egypt has now changed in line with the reduction in the level of violence,’ the Foreign Office said in a statement. ‘We continue to urge British Nationals already in Egypt to follow the instructions of the local authorities and obey curfews where they are in place. There remains a high threat from terrorism throughout Egypt. This has not changed.’

At the annual World Travel Market convention in London last week, Omayma El Husseini from the Egyptian State Tourist Office, said that she was hopeful that the Foreign Office’s restriction would be lifted in full.

Hisham Zaazou, the Egyptian tourism minister, said: ‘More than 18 countries have lifted the travel advisory on Luxor and Aswan. As soon as the Foreign Office revises its travel advice for the UK, we will work tirelessly with our valued media, travel agent and tour operator partners to communicate that the whole of Egypt is open.’

‘[We are using] the latest visual technologies such as webcams and mobile apps to show exactly what is happening on the ground in Egypt now,’ he added.

The Foreign Office first issued its travel advisory in July, as a result of the violence following the ousting of Mohamed Morsi. The move forced many travel firms across the UK, which typically follow the Foreign Office’s recommendations, to put package trips on hold. Independent travellers had the option to travel to the region, but have faced issues obtaining adequate insurance.

With the relaxation, travel operators will now be able to resume their tours, subject to the instructions by the Foreign Office and local authorities.

FCO retains travel advice for Egypt

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has reviewed the travel advice that it issued for Egypt last week and reaffirmed it for all but essential travel to Egypt, with the exception of the Red Sea resorts.

The advice update comes as violence returned at the weekend with at least 50 people killed in Cairo. Also, the explosion on Monday in the southern Sinai town of El Tur has extended the violence into the region of Sharm el-Sheikh.

‘It can sometimes be true that different national groups are more at risk than others,’ Louise Proudlove, head of consular assistance, reportedly told the Elman Wall Travel Directors’ Summit in London last week.

The UK position was often ‘more nuanced’ and that advice was reviewed regularly, she said, adding: ‘We try to be as specific as possible.’

While operators have been seeking a speedy relaxation for travel to Cairo and Luxor, Proudlove rejected the idea: ‘The industry appetite for a return to full travel is always going to be more than the government’s. It requires a period of calm,’ she said.

A national state of emergency was declared in Egypt for a period of one month on August 14, after the army overthrew president Morsi in July. It was extended for a further two months on 12 September. The FCO said that there was serious risk of violence and sexual assault at demonstrations and strongly advised all British nationals in Egypt to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings.

Currently the FCO advises against all but essential travel to most of Egypt with the exception of Red Sea Resorts.

‘We keep advice under constant review but only change it when the situation in a country changes. There was large-scale violence over the weekend. I would not want to predict when [advice on travel to] Egypt might change,’ an FCO official reportedly said.

Monarch Airlines offers new Hurghada route from Birmingham

Monarch Airlines, a UK-based scheduled leisure airline, has announced plans to launch a route to Hurghada on Egypt’s Red Sea coast from Birmingham Airport, UK, for the summer of 2014.

The brand new route will operate a twice-weekly service (Tuesday and Friday) from Birmingham Airport starting May 2, 2014, and flights are available to book now with fares starting from £150.49 one way.

An international centre for aquatic sports and known as a party town, particularly among Europeans, Hurghada has grown to become the most visited tourist destination in Egypt, with more than 100 hotels and first-class snorkelling and diving opportunities, as well as windsurfing, sailing, deep-sea fishing and swimming.

‘We are delighted to be able to offer this further expansion of our route network,’ said Kevin George, managing director of Monarch Airlines. ‘The addition of this new destination offers a wider range of quality, service and value and I am certain it will become an established favourite with our passengers.’

William Pearson, aviation development director for Birmingham Airport, added: ‘The launch of this new service to Hurghada with Monarch is great news for Midlanders, who can now fly to this popular year-round sunshine destination from their local airport. We’re delighted that the airline has continued to expand its route network from Birmingham, where it is now one of our largest airlines.’

A British airline based at Luton Airport, Monarch Airlines operates scheduled flights to destinations in the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Turkey, with additional charter services to Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, India and Africa. Owned by Globus Travel Group, the airline also has bases at Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds/Bradford, Gatwick and Manchester airports.

Holiday companies cancel Egypt tours until October

Adventure holiday companies are cancelling trips to Egypt en masse for the coming months as conflict continues in the country following the removal of president Mohammed Morsi.

Holiday companies Explore! and Exodus have cancelled several of their planned trips following an advisory from the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) against all but essential travel to Egypt, except to resorts in the Red Sea region. Exodus has cancelled tours until the end of September and Explore! has cancelled all holidays to the country until October 5. The companies are contacting customers to inform them of the changes and offering them the opportunity of booking another tour or receiving a full refund.

In its statement, Explore! Said, ‘The UK Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to most of Egypt. Consequently we have taken the decision to cancel all Explore tours due to depart prior to October 5, 2013, and our Reservations team has contacted customers due to depart within this period to discuss cancelling or transferring their bookings.’

‘Moving forward we will be reviewing the situation in Egypt on a weekly basis and will be looking at tours departing after October 06, 2013 and informing customers accordingly over the coming weeks,’ it added.

Egypt’s violence has had its effect across the travel industry. Thomson has re-routed a cruise that departed last week and was due to call at Alexandria and Port Said. The ship is now visiting Ag Nik, in Crete, and Haifa, in Israel. Thomson and First Choice have also cancelled all outbound flights to Luxor.

‘People should also take considerable reassurance from the fact that the resort of Sharm el Sheikh operates like a country in itself. It is run separately from the rest of the Egypt, benefits from having just one secure road into the resort, and enjoys an exceptionally low crime rate,’ a spokesperson from Thomson said, adding that there have been no related incidents in Sharm el Sheikh.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Thomas Cook said, ‘We continue to monitor the situation in Egypt and are working in close contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, adding: ‘Our experienced teams on the ground assure us that no tourist areas at the Red Sea have been affected. The resorts to which we travel are fully operational and holidaymakers are continuing to enjoy the popular resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada.’

Hayes and Jarvis have also issued a statement saying. ‘The Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh is one of our most popular destinations in Egypt and all the reports from resort hotels indicate that it remains safe for holidaymakers.

‘Despite the current situation in other parts of the country, we have had no reports that this has affected people’s enjoyment while on holiday in Sharm el Sheikh or other Red Sea resorts. Of course we will continue to follow FCO advice and advise our customers to do the same.’

While trips to the cities, Nile River cruises and cruise stop offs have been cancelled due to the ongoing violence, the FCO has reassured travellers that they were safe to visit Red Sea Resorts. The St. Catherine’s Monastery World Heritage Site has also been declared trouble free, along with the roads between the resorts and the airports of Taba and Sharm el Sheikh. The regions that are still considered safe for British travellers are the entire region of Sharm el Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab.

 

Egypt proclaims ‘new era for Egyptian tourism,’ reassures holidaymakers

Tourism authorities in Egypt have heralded a ‘new era for Egyptian tourism,’ as tour operators look forward to the withdrawal of a UK Foreign Office travel advisory.

Amid the mass demonstrations that ended in the defeat of Mohammed Morsi last week, the Foreign Office had advised Britons against all but essential travel to the country – excluding the Red Sea resorts.

However, the latest statement released on behalf of Omayma El Husseini, director of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, proclaimed a ‘new era for Egyptian tourism’, saying that tourists should be ‘assured of their safety and ability to complete their planned visits without disruption.’

‘Tourists booked to visit Egypt this summer are equally reassured that there is no impediment to their visit,’ the statement said. ‘They will come to enjoy Egypt as millions of tourists have done for years and years, in safety and security, welcomed by their friendly and hospitable Egyptian hosts. Tourism in Egypt is expected to boom as of next autumn as the country settles down to its newfound democracy which will bring peace and prosperity to this great country and its united people.’

While last week the Office had warned Britons against travel to major parts of the country, it excluded the popular Red Sea resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab on the Sinai peninsula; St Catherine’s Monastery – a World Heritage Site also in the Sinai; roads between the five locations; and mainland resorts including Hurghada. Those wishing to cancel their trip to any of the Red Sea resorts were not allowed to do so free of charge.

The warning has reportedly resulted in the cancellation/deferral of hundreds of package holidays and cruises to the country’s attractions, including Luxor and Giza. Affected holidaymakers were entitled to a full refund or an alternative itinerary, but not obligated to accept the latter, the advisory said.

Following the Travel ministry’s statement, the Association of Independent Tour Operators said that it was expecting the Foreign Office to withdraw its advisory soon, and ‘holidaymakers should not be worried about [visiting] Egypt in the near future’.

 

Britons advised to avoid Egypt travel

British holidaymakers are set to cancel their trips to Egypt after advice from the Foreign Office urging them to avoid all but essential travel to major parts of the country.

The travel advice comes amid the continuing conflict between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi, who is currently under house arrest. In the latest violence, several deaths were reported on Tuesday in Cairo, along with the death of a US citizen in Alexandria last week. ‘In view of the continued unrest in Egypt, the Foreign Office recommends against all but essential travel to Egypt except for resorts on the Red Sea in South Sinai and those resorts on the Egyptian mainland in Red Sea governorate,’ the Office said on its website.

Locations that are not covered by the advice include the popular holiday resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab on the Sinai peninsula; St Catherine’s Monastery – a World Heritage Site; roads between the five Red Sea locations; mainland resorts including Hurghada; and transfers between the resorts and the airports of Taba and Sharm El Sheikh.

The warning will result in the cancellation of thousands of package holidays and cruises to Egypt’s renowned destinations like Luxor and Giza. Holidaymakers will be entitled to a full refund or an alternative itinerary, but are not obligated to accept the latter. The move will be major setback to the country’s tourism industry, which employs one in eight Egyptians, as well as British tour operators.

Independent travellers will be able proceed with their trip, but may face difficulty obtaining adequate insurance. Airlines and hotels are not legally required to offer a refund, but most carriers may be willing to let fliers postpone their trips. If anyone is looking to cancel their trip to one of the Red Sea resorts, they will not be able to do so free of charge.

Meantime, Britons already in the area have been advised to ‘stay at or close to home or a place of safety, keep a low profile and pay close attention to their personal safety, particularly in the larger cities,’ the Office said, adding they should take ‘particular care to avoid crowds.’ While the Foreign Office has not recommended immediate departure from the country, it said that people ‘should consider whether they have a pressing need to remain.’

This is the second warning from the Foreign Office and more extensive than the one issued in January 2011 amid the uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. At the time, Britons were asked to avoid travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez, and the advisory was lifted a few months later.