An EgyptAir flight with 66 people on board has disappeared from radar screens over the Mediterranean. The prognosis is bad. Its been a terrible year for the airline and aviation business in Egypt. My recent experience there was stressful. The authorities are very nervous. Passengers are catatonically quiet aboard planes and awaiting to embark. There are smiles at disembarkation.
I felt a like an animal off to slaughter and security personnel were twitchy. They took me away for questioning over a video pen I use on travels, eventually deciding I and my pen were harmless.
“We made it” was the thought on my mind stepping off the FlyDubai plane in Dubai after leaving Alexandria. The country is in the grip of a political crisis with international ramifications. Those ramifications are once again highlighted by the list of passengers on board.
This from @EGYPTAIR Twitter Feed:
1 Canadian (?)
But what now for EgyptAir? Whatever caused this disappearance is going to have a severe effect on the airline. When I recently flew to Egypt the only reason the flight was not changed to Emirates by the sponsor was the extra cost. In future I shall not fly EgyptAir.
The aviation industry in Egypt is part of the political establishment which was hijacked in 2014 by the military preferring not to have a hardline Islamic presidency and summarily removed Mohamed Morsi the incumbent. Moderate Egyptians found themselves in two minds. Many objected to their revolution being effectively ended by the same people who supported Mubarak while at the same time some were growing concerned about Morsi’s preference for Sharia law. The Muslim Brotherhood which had come into power threatened violence after his arrest and has subsequently delivered.
A little later the dark and ominous Daesh or Islamic State as it prefers to be known in english, arrived on the scene and since then, more violence. And a chartered Russian flight was blown out of the sky over the Sinai killing 224 people.
EgyptAir has had its unfair share of crashed airliners. This Airbus A320 had an extremely experienced crew on board. It also had three security personnel listed as passengers. Prior to more information, this just looks like a possible act of terror. During my visit to Egypt I wondered at the number of jets at Cairo airport. Droves. Virtually every single one was an EgyptAir plane on the apron and very few other airliners were landing or taking off. The effect on the country’s tourism industry has been immense.
As I explained in a previous blog, security is extremely tight at Egyptian airports. But this plane took off from Paris which has seen its own terrorism. I’m concerned that even with the high level of awareness and action by security at airports around the world, the latest version of aviation terror is just too extreme to counter those who want to kill themselves and everyone else in their immediate vicinity.