Tunisia travel alert: Hundreds more Britons fly home
11 July 2015
- From the section UK
More UK holidaymakers are flying home from Tunisia after the government advised them to leave the country amid fears of another terror attack.
Flights are due to land at Gatwick, Bristol, Stansted and Manchester later.
Tour operator Thomas Cook, which has the most UK customers in Tunisia, said 2,000 would be flown home this weekend.
Tunisia declared a state of emergency after 38 people – including 30 Britons – were killed by an Islamist gunman on a beach in Sousse on 26 June.
The new travel advice drew criticism from British tourists and from the Tunisian government, which said it had done everything it could to protect foreigners.
Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which scrutinises the work of the Foreign Office, said it “raised questions”.
‘Stuck until October’
Extra flights are being laid on across the weekend to evacuate up to 3,000 British package holidaymakers and hundreds of independent travellers.
Thomas Cook said:
- Two flights took 400 customers back to the UK on Friday
- 900 are to return on four flights on Saturday
- The remainder – about 700 – will return on six flights on Sunday
The company, which has cancelled all bookings up to 31 October, said its final flight back to the UK would be on Sunday morning and it was trying to “reach out to all customers” before then.
Monarch Airlines said 125 of its customers had returned on a flight into Gatwick on Friday night, and another flight is expected at the airport on Saturday afternoon. Its last flight is on Sunday.
Myles Roberts, who is due to return to the UK, said: “[I’m] very, very disappointed. When I left England on Wednesday there were no problems whatsoever. We were in fact told we were to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tunisian people.
“I considered it and booked it [the holiday]. I wasn’t worried in the slightest. We have terror alerts in London all the time.
“It’s been made quite clear to us that if we don’t leave on these flights we could be stuck here until October.”
Mr Blunt questioned why travel advice was not changed immediately after the attack.
“What we don’t know is the exact intelligence picture of what Philip Hammond (the foreign secretary) is seeing – but on the basis of what he’s said it raises questions,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Mr Blunt said he intended to question Mr Hammond about the decision when he appears before the committee on 21 July.
Asked if he would be prepared to take his family on holiday to Tunisia, the former minister answered: “Yes.”
The UK has warned another terror attack in the country was “highly likely”.
Mr Hammond said it was “too big a risk” not to act but he hoped the guidance would be downgraded soon.
Ireland, where three of the victims were from, has warned against “all non-essential travel” to Tunisia. Denmark followed suit but Germany and France, which accounts for the largest number of tourists in the country, has not.
On Friday, officials said Tunisian security forces had killed five suspected Islamist militants – but there was no link to the Sousse attack.
Tunisia believes the Sousse gunman, Seifeddine Rezgui, trained in neighbouring Libya, though the Islamic State group claimed the attack.
Eight people have been arrested on suspicion of collaborating with Rezgui, who was killed after the shooting spree.
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