Norfolk couple stuck in Sharm el-Sheikh with thousands of other confused tourists as flights home stopped
- Credit: AP
A Norfolk couple on holiday in Egypt are concerned they might be left stranded in the north African tourist destination in the aftermath of the Russian plane crash in Sinai, which the British government believes may have been caused by a bomb.
Three airlines announced plans to start repatriating stranded British holidaymakers back to the UK from Sharm el-Sheikh last night but efforts to fly home were thrown into disarray on Friday morning after an airline announced its flights had been suspended by Egyptian authorities.
Georgie Dix, 19, and his girlfriend Ellie Jackson, 20, were due to fly home today but with an estimated 20,000 Britons in the Red Sea resort they do not yet know when they will be able to get back home.
Mr Dix, an estate agent from Thorpe St Andrew, said things were uncertain as to when they would be getting flights back home to the UK.
The former Thorpe St Andrew High School pupil and his girlfriend have been enjoying their first holiday together but have had their stay disrupted by security fears following a crash involving a Russian passenger jet in Egypt on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board.
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Mr Dix, who is staying at the Royal Albatross hotel, said he has been struggling to find out anything from his holiday company or hotel staff, but has been finding out information from others staying at the resort and by checking news channels and the internet.
He said: 'At the hotel its really calm. All of the British people are talking to each other and trying to find out what's going on.'
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Miss Jackson, a student at the University of Roehampton, added: 'We just don't know when we're going to go home.'
While two easyJet planes, due to carry 339 passengers to Luton and Gatwick, were given permission to leave the Red Sea resort, a further eight have been stopped from taking off and are no longer expected to fly today, said the airline in a statement.
The UK Government had been expecting more than 20 flights to bring Britons home over the course of Friday, and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said it was hoped to clear most of the backlog of passengers by the end of the day.
The Monarch airline said that five planes are currently in the air on the way to pick up Britons from Sharm el-Sheikh and bring them home as scheduled.
The UK government suspended air links on Wednesday after an Airbus 321 operated by Russian airline Metrojet crashed on Saturday, killing 224 people. Militants of the Islamic State terror group in the Sinai Peninsula have claimed that they downed the plane, and Mr McLoughlin said there was now a 'high probability' that a bomb in the hold was to blame.
Brought down by a bomb?
Other British tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh are cutting their holidays short in an attempt to get home early after revelations that the intelligence services may have uncovered evidence of a bomb plot.
David Cameron said it was 'more likely than not' that the Russian plane was brought down by a bomb after British intelligence revealed that extremists with the so-called Islamic State have plotted an attack in the area.
As a result, tourists who are booked in to stay in Sharm el-Sheikh are now trying to leave the resort at the first opportunity.
Lauryn Mudzimu, 35, from west London, is due to fly home on November 14 and said people who were supposed to be flying on the same dates have left their hotels and made their way to the airport.
'The announcement by the Government has caused a panic among almost all the British tourists here,' she said.
'Some people are due to leave on the 12th, but they have gone to the airport. A lot of people have checked out and left their hotels. They were in a panic saying they have to go.
'The locals are in panic as well, and that's affecting business and work.'
'£20 to skip security'
British holidaymakers have also told how they have been offered the chance to pay up to £20 to skip queues and bag checks at Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
Dale Parkyn, who visited the Red Sea resort with his wife earlier this year, told Sky News they were approached by a man in military uniform and asked if they would like to avoid the long queues.
The 47 year old, from Harrogate, said: 'What we did is we discussed it and he then produced a £20 note and said, 'Have you one of these' and you can avoid the queue.
'We walked right through the security gates and security procedure, straight through the airport, avoided all the queues, and then he put the case on the conveyor belt and the girl checked us in. At no point did my luggage go through any scanner. When I think now, it was bizarre.
'At the time it was quite amusing that for us, for £20, we'd avoided all the queues.'
He said he realised the 'gravity' of the situation after seeing news of the Government's announcement.
Brendan De Garis, from Maidstone, told the Sun razors were missed in one queue-jumper's luggage.
He said: 'David Cameron did the right thing. The airport's not safe. The staff I saw were arrogant, complacent, and a danger to the public.
'Security was such a shambles I was relieved when we were turned round at the gate.'
Security has since been tightened at the airport following the suspension of flights, including a ban on carrying hold luggage.