First EasyJet Flight to Sharm in Five Years Welcomed by Dive Centres
The first direct flight from the UK to the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh has been warmly welcomed by local tour operators, with hopes that it will signal the start of a recovery in tourism to Egypt following the coronavirus shutdown.
The EasyJet flight carrying passengers from Gatwick landed on 17 October, almost five years since Easyjet's last direct flight from the UK to Sharm, after the forced suspension of air traffic to the resort following the 2015 Russian MetroJet disaster. EasyJet had previously operated the first direct flight from the UK to Hurghada on 7 September.
EasyJet had planned to resume operations in June this year, however, Egyptian airports were closed in March as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Domestic flights resumed on 1 July, with airports officially opening to international flights on 1 September after the Egyptian government embarked on a drive to certify hotels and dive centres as safe to visit, by meeting tough standards of hygiene in preparation for the return of holidaymakers.
While a limited number of domestic tourists have visited the resorts, and some international tourists have made their way to Egypt either from countries with fewer restrictions or though indirect routes, the uncertainty of continued lockdowns, requirement of PCR tests to travel, and mandatory 14-day self-quarantine on return to the UK have severely reduced the demand for international flights.
While some dive centres have been forced to remain closed until at least 2021, others – including Sinai Divers, Werner Lau, Anthias Divers, Oonas Dive Club, Circle Divers and more – have reopened to accommodate the low level of tourists that are visiting.
Alun Evans, owner of Elite Diving, which is currently open for business, said: 'It's great to see directs flights starting back up from UK to Sharm. We have quite a few divers coming to dive with us booked over the next few weeks. Let's hope the amount of divers being able to travel will increase very soon.'
EasyJet is currently operating one flight per week to both Sharm and Hurghada, with bookings also available from Manchester on certain dates. A negative PCR test is required to be submitted at most 72 hours before travel. PCR tests costing $30 are available on arrival at Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam, however, visitors will be required to isolate in their hotels until the results are received.