Comtel Air Passengers Forced To Stump Up £20,000 To Get Home
Passengers on a flight from India to Birmingham had to have a whip-round for £20,000, after their airline couldn't afford landing fees for the Midland airport.
The flight, chartered by Austrian airline Comtel Air, had stopped to refuel in Vienna, but due to the company's financial difficulties passengers were told to disembark and make their own way to Birmingham.
Furious, passengers refused to leave the aeroplane and a six hour stand-off ensued, during which the Austrian police were called.
More than 180 holidaymakers were then told that the plane could leave if 23,400 euros, or nearly £20,000, was handed over.
Enraged, the passengers felt "held to ransom" as they were marched under security escort to cash machines. Split between them, they were forced to draw out over £100 each, though many felt pressed to take out more, as elderly passengers and children couldn't afford more than the £500 they had already forked out for the flight from the northern Indian city of Amritsar.
The cash was handed over in pounds and euros as the passengers struggled to pool together their finances. Four different flights and altogether 600 passengers were involved in the fiasco which started in Amritsar, India. There is still one more Comtel Air flight on the tarmac in Vienna which is "delayed indefinitely."
Passengers speaking to the Birmingham Mail were enraged by the debacle. Blind grandmother, Gurhej Kaur, was left without her medication for 15 hours after her luggage remained in the hold.
Her relative, Dalvinder Batra, from the West Midlands, said: “It is absolutely disgusting.
‘‘There are still people stuck out there. We have been told that the company has gone bust.”
Rnanbir Dehal a 32-year-old actuary said: “We were escorted to the cash point to take money out."
“They said there was a deficit of nearly 24,000 euros and they gave us receipts. They lined up the buses and said we would be removed from the plane.”
Comtel air was unavailable for comment.