A plane carrying British holidaymakers to Sharm el-Sheikh came within 300 metres (1,000ft) of a missile as it neared the Egyptian airport in August, the government has confirmed.
A Thomson Airways flight from London Stansted to the Red Sea resort, carrying 189 passengers, took evasive action after the missile was spotted in its trajectory by the pilot. The crew of flight TOM 476 landed the plane safely and passengers were not advised of the incident, which occurred on 23 August.
The incident is not thought to be directly linked to Britain’s decision to curtail flights to Sharm el-Sheikh in the wake of the crash of the Russian Metrojet airliner, killing 224 people, last Saturday. However, it will underline fears that regional instability could threaten flights, as more countries joined Britain in restricting air travel and imposing tougher security measures.
The Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed that the incident took place but said it did not believe the missile was an attempt to target the British plane, instead ascribing the missile seen by the Thomson pilots to Egyptian military manoeuvres. Airlines are currently prohibited from flying below 26,000 feet over the Sinai peninsula due to fears that Islamic militants fighting the Egyptian government could have weapons capable of bringing down a plane.