03 October 2017, For Immediate Release

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Egypt and the Egyptian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, released statements today linking Monarch’s collapse and the UK flight ban to Sharm El-Sheikh airport. Both noted that Andrew Swaffield, CEO of Monarch, pointed to the flight ban as one of the ‘root causes’ of Monarch’s collapse. They expressed concerns at the way that the flight ban continues to damage both the British and the Egyptian economy.

The All Party Parliamentary Group,co-chaired by Jonathan Lord MP and Stephen Timms MP, reads:

“We are very sad to hear that Monarch Airlines has entered administration. Our sympathies are with tourists who have been left stranded and staff members who are now unemployed.

Monarch has traditionally been one of Egypt’s largest travel providers. Their CEO Andrew Swaffield has been quoted as describing the travel ban as one of the ‘root causes’ of Monarch’s collapse. As Monarch’s post-mortem begins, the ongoing ban on UK flights into Sharm El-Sheikh airport will rightly come under the spotlight. If we do not want to hear of further similar stories, it is vital that the flight ban be lifted as soon as possible.

We, as a cross-Party group, have been calling for an end to the Sharm El-Sheikh travel ban since September 2016, following our visit and tour of the airport in July. The Egyptian government and hotel groups have spent over £20 million to ensure that Sharm El-Sheikh is now one of the safest airports in the Middle East and meets the demands laid out by the British government in 2015. A Department for Transport representative said in 2016 that the ‘conditions had been met to enable flights to resume.’ As these conditions have been met, there are no longer justifiable reasons for the ongoing ban. Monarch’s collapse shows that the ban is not only having a devastating effect on the Egyptian economy, but also damaging the British economy.

There may also be diplomatic consequences. UK-Egyptian relations are in danger of becoming strained as a result of the ongoing ban, with Egyptian officials publicly stating their puzzlement about why Britain persists with the ban when nearly every other European country has resumed flights to the resort.

As a result of these factors, and in view of Monarch’s collapse, we believe the government should consider lifting the flight ban immediately.”

His Excellency Nasser Kamel said,

“The Egyptian Ambassador to the United Kingdom expresses his Sympathy and Solidarity to the staff of Monarch Airlines who have lost their jobs, and tourists who have been stranded abroad or face flight cancellations. Monarch Airlines provided thousands of flights into Egypt from the UK every year, and we are sorry to hear that such a trusted and faithful travel operator has fallen into administration.

I noted what Andrew Swaffield, the Chief Executive Officer of Monarch, mentioned in his letter to staff that the travel ban on Sharm El-Sheikh airport was one of the main ‘root causes’ of the closure. Since 2015, Egyptian Hotel Groups and the authorities have spent Tens of Millions of US dollars every year to implement the joint UK/Egyptian action plan to upgrade security in the city and the airport of Sharm El-Sheikh based on the understanding that flights will resume once it was completed. And since the successful implementation of this plan, every other European country has given permission for its airlines to fly to Sharm El-Sheikh except for Great Britain.

Before the flight ban roughly 1 million British tourists visited Egypt each year, and the majority of them chose to spend their vacation in Sharm El-Sheikh. Only roughly 200,000 British tourists have visited other destinations in Egypt during the past year.

The pain which will be felt across Britain following Monarch’s collapse is shared by many in Egypt. Scores of hotels have been forced to close down in the resort and thousands of workers have been laid off as a result of the ban, and the closure has cost the Egyptian economy, which relies heavily on tourism, billions of US dollars in lost revenue. Monarch Airline’s story is the latest detrimental economic consequence of the travel ban on Sharm El-Sheikh airport. It is clear that the longer the ban stays in place, the more it harms both the British and the Egyptian economy. It is indeed a sad day for Britain, and for Egypt who have lost a faithful and reliable airline. My thoughts are with all those affected, and I hope that this tragic development might encourage the British government to consider lifting the flight ban as soon as possible.”

For more information on the effect of the flight ban on the Egyptian and UK economies please call Dirk Paterson on 07944 866 286