Governments, airlines and tour operators worked together on Monday to fly their nationals out of Egypt where protesters pressed their campaign to topple President Hosni Mubarak.

The U.S. embassy in Cairo said it began evacuating U.S. nationals who wish to leave to locations in Europe.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs said 2,400 U.S. citizens had asked for help to leave Egypt. Up to 52,000 Americans are registered with the embassy in Cairo.

An embassy spokesman was quoted as saying by Egyptian state media that a total of eight planes were scheduled to leave on Monday evacuating 1,000 passengers.

European airlines, including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Air Berlin, said they were sending larger aircraft than usual to Egypt to meet demand and had agreed additional flights with foreign ministries.

Officials in Turkey and Cyprus said they were making contingency plans to receive tourists evacuated from Egypt and speed them on to their destinations.

Two Chinese airlines, Air China and Hainan Air, said they would each send a chartered flight to Cairo on Monday to bring home Chinese citizens. There were at least 500 Chinese nationals stuck at Cairo's international airport, a Chinese consular official in Cairo told Reuters by telephone.

Witnesses reported scenes of chaos at Cairo Airport on Sunday, with many people, including Egyptians, scrambling to get on a decreasing number of scheduled flights.

"Access to the airport was very difficult. On a 20 kilometre route we had to pass through 19 checkpoints, 10 by the army and the others by citizens," a Greek man arriving in Athens at around 1300 GMT told state broadcaster NET TV.

In 2009 about 12.5 million tourists visited Egypt, bringing revenue of $10.8 billion. The tourism sector is one of the top sources of foreign revenue, accounting for more than 11 percent of GDP, and offers jobs in a country beset by high unemployment.


The German Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning late on Sunday for Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, but described the situation at Red Sea resorts as calm for the moment.

Italy said it was not repatriating citizens but urged nationals not to go there on holiday.

German tour operator Rewe advised customers booked on holidays to Egypt over the next week to cancel to relieve pressure on the country's infrastructure. The company has 3,100 customers in Egypt at present and said those in Red Sea resorts should be able to continue their holidays as planned.

Britain advised against travel to Luxor, prompting tour operators TUI and Thomas Cook to cancel flights there.

Turkey said it was sending two Turkish Airlines planes to Egypt to evacuate Turkish nationals, while Greece said it had military aircraft on standby.

Other countries advised their citizens to leave Egypt or avoid travelling to major cities. The U.S. State Department moved to reduce diplomatic staff in Egypt, authorising the voluntary departure of diplomats and non-essential workers.

Egypt's tourism industry, which provides about one in eight jobs in the country, took a hit in 1997 when gunmen killed 58 tourists and four Egyptians at a temple in Luxor, and after the September 11, 2001, attacks. But dips in tourist numbers have previously been temporary, and the trend has been broadly upward for a decade.

Some European and Asian companies started evacuating staff.

Automakers Daimler, BMW and Nissan said they had shut down operations at plants in the country, while Volkswagen said it had halted deliveries.

Oil company Royal Dutch Shell planned to evacuate about 60 families of its international staff from Egypt as a safety measure, a source close to the company told Reuters.

One of Europe's largest retailers, Germany's Metro, said two of its stores in Egypt had been looted, with one set on fire. It has recommended its 700 employees to stay at home and is helping some international employees return home.

Nokia Siemens Networks spokeswoman Riitta Mard told Reuters the firm, which has 400 employees in Egypt, had started to evacuate its foreign employees and their families to Dubai.