U.K. Probed Aircraft Incident Near Sharm el-Sheikh in August

Updated on
  • Event called `rocket attack' in Daily Mail report Saturday
  • Britain concluded it was safe to continue flying, Thomson says

The U.K. government said it had investigated a passenger-aircraft incident in August near the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh that media reports called a “rocket attack,” deciding that it was probably related to activities by the country’s armed forces.

“We investigated the reported incident at the time and concluded that it was not a targeted attack and was likely to be connected to routine exercises being conducted by the Egyptian military in the area at the time,” a Department for Transport spokesman wrote in a response to questions. A department spokeswoman declined further comment.

Egyptian authorities agreed with the U.K.’s assessment. The August incident involved a “ground-to-ground fire exercise” at a military base a few miles from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, Ahmed Abu Zeid, spokesman for the Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Twitter. “Egypt and U.K. govs fully aware that plane was in no danger. Airliners previously informed of military exercise,” Zeid tweeted.

The pilot of the Thomson Airways aircraft on Aug. 23 took evasive action after spotting a missile “speeding through the air,” allowing the 189 passengers and crew to land safely, the British newspaper said, without citing a source for the information. A Russian flight that broke apart in the air on Oct. 31 over the Sinai after taking off from an airport in Sharm el-Sheikh is being investigated for possible terrorist involvement.

The August event was immediately reported to the U.K. Department for Transport, “in line with established protocol,” Thomson said in a statement on Saturday. The DfT conducted a full probe together with other U.K. government experts, Thomson said. Neither the air carrier, a unit of Britain’s TUI Travel Plc, nor the DfT commented on whether a missile was involved.

“The investigation concluded that there was no cause for concern and it was safe to continue our flying program to Sharm el-Sheikh,” Thomson said in the statement.

— With assistance by Nadeem Hamid, and Namitha Jagadeesh

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