3-Feb-2011 11:56 AM

Cairo Airport houses thousands of stranded foreigners

Egypt's Cairo International Airport continues to house thousands of foreign tourists trying to return to their countries (Reuters, 02-Feb-2011). Departures are difficult, with Cairo International Airport under curfew from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. local time, Unrest in the Egyptian capital has escalated in recent days, with supporters and protestors of President Hosni Mubarak clashing violently on the streets. The following are details from Reuters of some measures being taken by governments and airlines:

  • China, Japan, Canada, Britain and Turkey have announced extra flights to evacuate their nationals.
  • Austria has evacuated some 490 people on special commercial flights and army planes and plans to take more. Nearly 1,000 Austrians are still in Egypt, mainly at tourist resorts, according to the Foreign Ministry;
  • Belgian travel agency Jetair said on its website it was working on an evacuation plan due to start on Monday 31-Jan-2011. Belgian media said about 1,700 tourists were involved. It has suspended flights to Egypt up to and including 14-Feb-2011;
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina will evacuate around 130 of its citizens on Thursday 03-Feb-2011 on a charter service with local carrier, leaving 70 who do not wish to be evacuated;
  • Bulgaria has advised its citizens not to travel to Egypt, after saying it would send a government plane on Tuesday to pick up more than 70 Bulgarians;
  • All Chinese travellers stranded in Egypt are expected to have been returned to China by Thursday 03-Feb-2011, the start of the Spring Festival, China's national tourism authorities said late on Wednesday. China sent eight "special commercial flights" to Cairo, Luxor and Hurghada to bring back Chinese citizens stranded there and six have returned, carrying 1,371 people, including those from Hong Kong, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry;
  • Germany has issued an urgent warning against travelling to Egypt and extended the advisory to Red Sea areas. The German units of travel companies TUI and Thomas Cook and German tour operator Rewe said they would cancel all trips to Egypt up to Feb. 14. Lufthansa has brought forward flight times and switched to jumbo jets to meet demand for repatriation. Major tour operators TUI, Thomas Cook, and Rewe said they had received only a few requests for customers to fly back early from resorts such as Hurghada and Sharm El Sheik;
  • Air Berlin said it would still operate out on Thursday 03-Feb-2011 as normal, even if they were empty, to pick up people returning home. The Foreign Ministry has said about 1.1 million German tourists visit Egypt each year and more than 10,000 Germans live permanently in Egypt; Three Greek military C-130 transport aircraft chartered by the Greek government evacuated 182 people from Alexandria on Tuesday, 155 Greeks and the rest citizens of other countries;
  • Pakistan's ambassador said 450 to 500 Pakistanis lived in Egypt and some had already left;
  • The Slovakian government said it would send a government aircraft to Egypt on Thursday 03-Feb-2011 to pick up Slovak citizens living there. About 50 of the 100 Slovaks in Egypt want to leave;
  • Spain has advised nationals not to travel to Egypt. Spain's power and gas utility Gas Natural, which operates a natural gas liquefaction plant in Damietta in northern Egypt, started evacuating non-essential staff;
  • Switzerland issued a travel warning for non-essential trips to Egypt on Sunday. Swiss-listed travel group Kuoni said it will not offer flights to Egypt or Tunisia between 07-Feb and 31-Mar. This week, however, flights to Egypt are going to plan;
  • Turkey said 1,548 Turks had been brought back from Egypt. A total of 1,114 had been evacuated from Alexandria and Cairo and 434 returned on scheduled flights;
  • Britain has advised against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez. The UK government said it would send a chartered B757, able to carry 200 passengers, to Cairo on Wednesday to bring back Britons wanting to leave, and would charge them GBP300 pounds (USD486) per seat;
  • Thomson and First Choice said they had more than 11,000 customers in Egypt, about 8,700 of them in Sharm el Sheikh and 950 in Luxor. They had no customers in Cairo. Thomson and First Choice are repatriating their 950 customers in Luxor, where the British government has advised against travel;
  • The US State Department said it would help Americans who wanted to leave Egypt, but noted "flights may be disrupted and transport to the airport may be disrupted due to the protests". There are 52,000 Americans registered with the embassy in Cairo. US emergency-travel specialists such as On Call International and Medex Global Solutions are rushing to arrange evacuations from Egypt for tourists, students and business people who bought protection for their trips (Bloomberg, 02-Jan-2011);
  • Delta Air Lines, the only US carrier with non-stop Cairo service, cancelled service to New York JF;
  • Charter company Air Partner plc said 1,200 people left Cairo in rented business jets and airlines in 2 1/2 days;
  • The New Zealand government will send military planes or organise charter flights to get New Zealanders out of Egypt if it becomes necessary, but advised commercial flights are still the best option for now (Xinhua, 02-Feb-2011);
  • Russian tourists are reportedly “flying by the thousands” Sharm El Sheikh and Hurgada, Egyptian resorts on the Red Sea coast, in direct defiance to government warnings against travel to the country. (02-Feb-2011). Russia tourists account for the largest proportion of foreign tourists in Egypt, with about 2 million visitors p/a. A Russian travel industry body body stated that Russians continuing to travel to Egypt is “a trait of national character, adding that“Russians get less worried [than other nationalities at such situations.” Aeroflot has stopped selling tickets to Egyptian tourist resorts at the request of the foreign ministry (Bloomberg, 02-Feb-2011);
  • Air India announced (02-Feb-2011) its has operated a third service to Cairo to bring back stranded Indian nationals. A 423-seat B747-400 will operate to Mumbai. The airline has changed its policy on payment for the service, and will allow passengers to pay on arrival in Mumbai. In response to passenger complaints that its fares were "unjustifiably" high, the airline stated it is pricing fares to only covers its costs. [more]
  • Malaysia Airlines announced (02-Feb-2011) the operation of a flight for Malaysians to be evacuated from Egypt on 03-Feb-2011. The service to Cairo is operated via Egypt Air under a code share service [more]. AirAsia also announced (02-Feb-2011) will be sending one A320 aircraft to transport Malaysians between Jeddah and Cairo three times daily, covering 6 sectors on 03-Feb-2011 and 04-Feb-2011. [more]
  • Qantas has offered free onward connections to Australians fleeing Cairo. The Australian government has chartered a Qantas B747-400, with the service to Australia to depart from Frankfurt or London.
  • FedEx said services remain suspended across Egypt until further notice, according to a spokesman (Wall Street Journal, 29-Jan-2011). The company is holding Egyptian shipments at its facilities in Paris CDG, London Heathrow and Dubai International airports until it resumes business.

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