Leisure airlines Fly Egypt and Air Cairo have been banned from flying to Germany due to problems with catering regulations, leaving tour operators urgently seeking alternatives.
The German civil aviation authority has withdrawn approval for the two airlines to fly to Germany with immediate effect “on the grounds of incorrect in-flight logistics”. The carriers apparently did not meet the necessary catering regulations.
German authorities only allow airlines flying from Egypt to load food and drinks at Cairo Airport but not, for example, at Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh. This is not an issue for German airlines which already transport catering items for return flights on the outbound flights.
This catering regulation was introduced after the crash of a Russian charter airline over the Sinai in October 2015, which killed 224 passengers and crew. The attack was attributed to terrorists. Officials suspect that a bomb might have been smuggled aboard among catering items before the departure from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
However, the German civil aviation authority does not appear to have any other security concerns about the two airlines apart from the catering issue. This means they could regain approval for flights to Germany once catering processes have been adapted to the regulations.
Fly Egypt and Air Cairo operate flights with B737 and A320 planes from Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh to and from 11 airports in Germany. They also fly to Austria and Switzerland.
The ban has forced German tour operators to urgently re-book passengers on to other airlines for flights to Egypt. Clients of the two destination airlines include TUI, Thomas Cook, DER Touristik, FTI, Alltours and Egypt specialist ETI, although most of them reportedly only have small contingents on the flights. Moreover, there is normally sufficient available flight capacity from Germany to Egypt in the winter season, according to observers.