Over 300 Pakistan-bound passengers were stranded at Manchester airport after Air Blue Flight PA-221 failed to take off for more than 40 hours.
Originally scheduled to take off for Islamabad/Lahore at 9:55 BST on Friday night, the Airblue flight was rescheduled for 3pm on Sunday but passengers were still waiting at 4pm. Reportedly, passengers were due to be boarded on another plane scheduled to fly out at around 10pm Sunday – with passengers that were booked to be on that flight delayed by 24 hours.
The Pakistan-bound passengers were initially told that following a technical fault the flight was rescheduled to leave at 4:30 BST on Saturday, but was delayed again. The passengers were mostly families, including disabled people, children and women, who were heading for Pakistan to celebrate Eid, but the airline kept imposing further delays.
Pakistan-based media format, The News, has reported that many passengers commented on the ‘ineptitude’ of the airline, with its staff remaining clueless throughout the delay and not providing clear information to passengers.
While the airline arranged accommodation for passengers at a local hotel for Friday, they were checked-in in the early hours at about 4:00am and then rushed out at 10:00am to save the day’s charges. When the passengers asked for Sehri, a pre-fasting meal, on Saturday morning, the airline told them not to fast or fast without eating. ‘Fasting without eating is Islamic,’ the airline’s staff officer reportedly told the passengers. Many passengers had spent Saturday night in the airport rather than travel to the accommodation offered by the airline, which was about 80 miles away in Birmingham.
Several passengers said that they would file a legal case against the airline in the UK if they were not compensated for the loss of time and money due its to negligence and lack of planning.
The Manchester Airport duty manager said: ‘The replacement plane is due in at 8pm and passengers and the airline will be using that flight to get passengers out at about 10pm. They are working on the problem with the current aircraft.’
‘The passengers who were supposed to be on the 10pm flight have been informed at home,’ he added.