First plane carrying Britons leaves Sharm el-Sheikh amid confusion over flights

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The first flight bringing home British holidaymakers has left Sharm el-Sheikh despite confusion over whether Egyptian officials had halted the repatriation operation.

The easyJet plane has taken off from the Red Sea resort, and UK ambassador John Casson insisted more will leave during the course of the day.

The departure came after the airline released a statement confirming that two flights would be leaving, but claiming the airport authorities had suspended permission for another eight.

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However, other carriers suggested they were still expecting to operate flights back to Britain.

Speaking to reporters at Sharm el-Sheikh airport, Mr Casson denied the local authorities were blocking flights.

"We have very good cooperation. The first two flights are leaving now as I said, there will be more flights during the day, and we will continue to work until we have everybody home," he said.

"There are challenging logistical difficulties to work through, this is a busy airport, and we need to make sure people leave in a way that's safe and is in line with international aviation regulation, and that's what we're doing and we've got very good progress in our collaboration with the Egyptians."

In an apparent indication of frustration with easyJet, Downing Street said it was important for airlines to give tourists "accurate information".

"I think it is important that all the airline companies work closely with us to ensure that what they are telling customers is accurate and that they are giving them the best possible information," a Number 10 spokesman said.

One element in hold-ups at Sharm is the presence of a broken-down aeroplane, which was causing an issue in terms of getting flights in and out, he said.

Some planes have been in Sharm el-Sheikh since being grounded on Wednesday, while others are being flown empty to the resort from the UK.

Egypt's civil aviation ministry denied that they were to blame for delays.

A spokesman told Reuters: "Flying out thousands of people on one day is incredibly hard. Everyone has to go through the procedures.

"We have not cancelled any flights but the airport cannot handle all these planes at once."