Tourists queue up at check-in counters at the airport of Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 6, 2015
Tourists queue up at check-in counters at the airport of Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 6, 2015 © Mohamed El-Shahed - AFP
Tourists queue up at check-in counters at the airport of Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 6, 2015
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AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

Just 8 flights to leave Sharm for Britain Friday: Egypt

The first flight bringing British tourists back from the Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt landed at London's Gatwick Airport on Friday, though several more were held up by "logistical complexities", the government said.

The easyJet plane had been due to leave the holiday resort on Wednesday but Britain suspended flights, warning about security at Sharm el-Sheikh airport and saying it feared a bomb may have brought down a Russian jet departing from there last week.

There are an estimated 20,000 British holidaymakers in Sharm el-Sheikh and its surrounding Red Sea resorts.

Only eight out of 29 planned flights to Britain were to leave Sharm el-Sheikh on Friday, according to Egypt's civil aviation minister Hossam Kamal, who said this was due to the requirement that passengers take only their hand luggage.

He said the airport could not accommodate more than 120 tonnes of check-in baggage left behind.

There have been angry scenes at the resort airport as thousands of anxious Britons who had also hoped to fly home were sent back to their hotels after Egypt blocked several repatriation flights.

The British government held a meeting of its COBR crisis response committee in London to review the situation at Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

"This is a hugely complex operation," a Downing Street spokeswoman said afterwards.

"We continue to work closely with both the Egyptian authorities and the airline carriers to get people safely home as quickly as possible. But the sheer scale of the task poses a number of logistical complexities."

British holidaymakers should not go to Sharm el-Sheikh airport "until airlines have absolute confirmation that they will be able to travel", she added.

- 'It's been a real worry' -

Two scheduled easyJet flights -- one to London and one to London -- were bringing 359 passengers back to Britain on Friday.

But eight other planned services were scrapped.

The flight to Gatwick landed with 180 passengers on board.

Stephen, a train driver from Kent, southeast England, was standing with his wife in the Gatwick arrivals hall, waiting for their daughter to arrive home.

"We were really glad she was on the first flight out. It's been a real worry," he said.

"She was having a great holiday, and suddenly this happened. She was waiting at the airport for about six hours. There's a lot of confusion. Today she was quite stressed."

Monarch said that of five flights it had hoped to operate Friday repatriating British holidaymakers, only two were allowed to leave the Egyptian resort.

The British airline said four of the flights had landed at the Sinai peninsula holiday destination, with a fifth diverted to Larnaca on Cyprus.

One is flying to London airport, with the other heading to Birmingham in central England.

"We recognise this is a very frustrating situation and apologise for the inconvenience this is causing our customers," Monarch said in a statement.

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