Passengers stranded for three days after Cityjet flight suffers technical glitch

CityJet aircraft ‘went technical’ in Innsbruck; passengers were bussed to Munich for a series of flights that never appeared


Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 27 July 2017 11:19

“If the bus that took us to Munich had carried on we would have been home by now” — so said one of more than 80 holidaymakers as they began a third day of attempting to return to Birmingham after their holiday in Austria.

Viv Spencer was one of 84 passengers who were due to fly from Innsbruck to Birmingham at 11am on Saturday 17 June. They had been on holiday in Austria with Inghams.

The CityJet aircraft taxied to the runway, but the captain identified a technical issue with an engine and returned to the terminal.

“We spent about an hour on board, but they couldn’t fix it,” Ms Spencer said. “At 2.30pm we were sent to a hotel to return the following morning.”

The party were taken to Innsbruck airport at 6am, but the flight re-scheduled for 8.30am stayed grounded. Ms Spencer said: “They thought they had fixed it, but noise regulations meant they couldn’t test it until we were on board and ready to go.”

Innsbruck airport is one of the most challenging in Europe, and requires special training, so a replacement flight was planned for Munich. At 2.30pm they were taken on a three-hour bus ride to Munich airport, where they had been promised a flight at 9pm that evening.

“Nothing arrived, and at midnight we were bussed another 45 minutes to another hotel.

They were told to be ready at 5am on Monday morning for a flight which would leave at 8am or 9am, but those deadlines came and went, with passengers becoming increasingly frustrated. After 48 hours, they were only 21 miles closer to Birmingham than they were on Saturday evening.

The Munich airport website shows a CityJet flight to Birmingham planned for 8am, but provides no further details.

Gary Westwood tweeted: “Disgraceful service from @cityjet on WX5393 from Innsbruck to B'ham into 3rd day of travel back with an 89yr old man.”

Most passengers were not put on alternative flights to the UK, even though there are more than 20 daily departures from Munich to London alone, with many more to Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham itself.

One traveller was assisted by Inghams to fly on a scheduled flight to Heathrow, while two others took up the option to extend their holiday by a week. But most simply waited.

Viv Spencer told The Independent from Munich airport that they had been told the Monday flight had been rearranged for 1pm, but discovered after clearing security that it had been further delayed until 2.30pm. It finally departed at 3.46pm, and arrived 90 minutes later in Birmingham.

A spokesperson for CityJet said: "The aircraft due to operate Innsbruck to Birmingham developed a technical problem which prevented it being used on the flight on Saturday. We were unable to secure a replacement aircraft on Saturday.

"A flight from Munich was planned for Sunday and we coached customers to Munich on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately the aircraft due to operate this encountered delays on its earlier operations on Sunday with the result that it could not arrive in Munich ahead of the airport curfew.

"We regret the inconvenience to passengers."

Paul Carter, the chief executive of Inghams' holding company, Hotelplan, said: "The guests affected have been informed of their entitlement to €250 per person in compensation under the EU denied boarding regulations with advice on how they can process this and we have liaised closely with CityJet to ensure they are prepared for subsequent claims.”

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