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Thomas Cook abandons Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh

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Thomas Cook has scrapped flights and holiday programmes for Sharm El Sheikh for the next 18 months. A spokesperson for the UK-based travel firm said the decision reflected the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices warning that the Egyptian Red Sea resort and its airport were not safe.

The representative explained that the FCO advisory had not changed much since it was issued in December 2015. The statement added that until the travel advice for the Sinai and Sharm El Sheikh changed, Thomas Cook would not be relaunching programmes.

Holiday industry analysts say Thomas Cook had thought the advice warning against travel to this part of Egypt would be rescinded before the winter of 2017. As it wasnt, Thomas Cook and its agents have been left with the task of contacting people who have already booked holidays and flights and offering refunds or alternative choices.

The decision to pull the plug on Sharm El Sheikh affects both the winter timetable and the summer 2018 one. The holiday firm had scheduled five weekly flights for the winter season. One of the alternate holiday destinations Thomas Cook is offering is Marsa Alam.

Marsa Alam is on the opposite Egyptian shore of the Red Sea to the Sinai and is south of another burgeoning holiday hotspot, Hurghada. A little off the beaten track, Marsa Alam is famed for the stunning dive sites at Elphinstone Reef.

Although other holiday operators such as Thomson have not yet scrubbed Sharm El Sheikh from their schedules, Thomas Cooks decision may be the sounding of the death knell for the resort. The original warning against travel to the Sinai was a reaction to terrorists blowing up Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 in October 2015. The flight had just taken off from Sharm El Sheikh and all 224 aboard were killed.