Evacuating people from Cairo – only £300

Yesterday morning, the UK government sent a plane to Cairo to evacuate Brits who want to leave. Other governments are doing the same, but only the UK is charging for it. It’s £300 per person. When asked to justify this charge, the Foreign Office said:

It’s very important that we maintain commercial flights in and out of Egypt, so we don’t want to be in a position where we are providing flights at no cost, because that would undercut commercial airlines

So on the one hand there are people wanting to leave a city in turmoil, which has seen looting and attacks on journalists. On the other you have commercial airlines, who might lose money. I can see how the Tories would struggle with this one. But, sure, the violence hadn’t properly erupted at that point. Maybe there’s a somewhat-heartless-but-vaguely-coherent case that people could wait safely in their hotels for their return trip, so it’s fair to charge for an earlier flight. But hey, if you’re a family of four, it’s only £1200, right? If you can’t afford that, why haven’t you worked harder?

But today they’re sending a second plane, because of the ‘continuing fluidity and unpredictability of the situation’. So yesterday’s events have clearly had an impact, and there must be demand. It’s still £300/person, though. To be fair, you don’t have to pay up front. But this isn’t the kind of thing covered by regular travel insurance – Tesco’s policy explicitly says it doesn’t cover political unrest, rebellion or revolution. Tell me how this isn’t just exploiting scared people.