Air industry responds to Russian plane crash as rumours of terrorism take off

The air industry and international governments have issued responses after more than 200 people were killed on Saturday when a Russian plane crashed in Egypt, with the terror group known as Islamic State apparently claiming responsibility.

Crash investigators inspect debris (Credit: Alaa El Kassas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Crash investigators inspect debris (Credit: Alaa El Kassas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Airbus A321-200, operated by Metrojet – the trading name of Russian airline Kogalymavia – crashed shortly after 6.17am local time on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, a statement on the Airbus website said. Flight 7K9268 was en route from Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt to the Russian city of St Petersburg.

Visitors to the Airbus website today were greeted with a pop-up window directing them to the manufacturer's full statement on the crash, which said that the "concerns and sympathy of the Airbus employees go to all those affected by this tragic accident".

The website of the airline in question, which is available only in Russian, has carried several statements about the crash, including reproducing the Airbus statement. The airline has been ordered to cease all flights, media reports say.

Reports have circulated that Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the crash – these have been further fuelled by information this morning on the nature of the crash, in particular the airliner having broken up mid-air. However, terror experts have suggested Islamic State's claim is likely to be incorrect.

A spokeswoman for the International Air Transport Association told PRWeek this morning that the organisation would not be making any statement yet as it felt "premature" to do so, saying the trade body would instead wait for more information to emerge about what exactly caused the crash.

Several airlines have updated customers on their activities in the region.

A spokeswoman for UK airline easyJet said that it and other airlines had previously not flown over the area of the incident.

"We can confirm that we are currently assessing the situation and taking advice from all the relevant authorities. Based on the information received to date, easyJet plans to continue to operate flights to Egypt to carry holidaymakers as planned to and from Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada but will continue to actively review the situation," she said, adding that passengers not wishing to fly would be offered an alternative flight or a flight voucher.

British Airways said it continued to fly to Sharm el Sheikh, with a spokesman saying: "We never discuss exact flight routes, however, we would never fly a route unless it was safe to do so. The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority.

"Our safety team continually liaises with the appropriate authorities around the world, and we conduct very detailed risk assessments into every route we operate."

Other airlines reported to have stopped flying over the area since the crash include Air France and Lufthansa.

The Metrojet crash follows a difficult two years for aviation, including two deadly crashes involving Malaysian Airlines.

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