“If the bus that took us to Munich had carried on we would have been home by now” — so said one of nearly 100 holidaymakers who are beginning a third day of attempting to return to Birmingham after their holiday in Austria.
Viv Spencer is one of around 90 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 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 are only 21 miles closer to Birmingham than they were on Saturday evening.
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.”
It is not known why passengers were not put on alternative flights to the UK; there are more than 20 daily departures from Munich to London alone, with many more to Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham itself.
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.
“Passengers are being flown today to Birmingham. We regret the inconvenience to passengers.”
Inghams has not yet responded to a request from The Independent for more information.
The disrupted travellers are entitled to €250 each in compensation, as well as other expenses incurred due to the delay.