Egypt's civil aviation minister has denied reports that authorities cancelled flights bringing British holidaymakers back home from Sinai's Sharm El-Sheikh airport on Friday, saying that the process is restricted by the airport's capacity amid security measures.
British airline easyJet said earlier Friday that Egypt had suspended British airlines from flying into Sharm El-Sheikh, and thus hindering efforts to repatriate British tourists from the resort town.
The airline "wants to operate 18 flights to transport British [tourists] from Sharm El-Sheikh without their luggage, which will remain at the airport until it is later transported on cargo jets," Minister of Civil Aviation Hossam Kamal told reporters, adding that the airport cannot accommodate 18 flights on the same day due to the extra security measures.
Britain had suspended all flights to and from Sharm El-Sheikh on Wednesday over concerns that the Russian plane that crashed over Sinai last Saturday may have been downed by a bomb.
British flights were allowed to resume Friday with additional security measures.
The minister added that only eight flights for passengers, and one cargo jet to transport luggage, will operate on Friday in order not to cause baggage overload or obstruct local and international traffic.
The minister said that 29 flights were originally planned from Sharm El-Sheikh to Britain on Friday, but extra security measures were imposed by Britain to operate the flights.
These measures include permitting passengers to only travel with carry-on bags and transport hold luggage separately. "This makes it impossible to store over 120 tonnes of luggage at the airport," the minister said.