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Airline Sends Passengers On Four-Hour Detour to Another Continent to Deliver a Spare Part For a Broken Plane

Airline Sends Passengers On Four-Hour Detour to Another Continent to Deliver a Spare Part For a Broken Plane

a blue and white airplane on a runway

Passengers on a TUI Airways flight from Calabria in Southern Italy were deliberately diverted to North Africa so that the airline could deliver a spare part to an aircraft that had broken down in Tunisia, resulting in a delay of more than four hours.

When passengers arrived at Lamezia Terme Airport at the end of their holidays on Saturday afternoon for what should have been a two-and-a-half-hour flight to London Gatwick, they learned they would instead be first heading to Enfidha, which is just over 100km south of the capital Tunis.

The reason, it turns out, was that the Boeing 737, which was due to fly them home, had a crucial spare part onboard that needed to be delivered to another TUI Airways 737 that was stranded on the ground at Enfidha after experiencing technical issues that couldn’t be fixed by local engineers.

As a result, TUI Airways sent 189 passengers on a roughly one-hour flight in the opposite direction to where they wanted to go so that the spare could be dropped off, the Independent reports.

After sitting on the ground for another hour to refuel and unload the precious cargo, the plane was cleared to depart for London Gatwick, where it landed after a three-hour flight at around 6:15 pm on Saturday evening – just over three hours late.

“We can confirm that flight BY4651 made a short stop at Enfidha-Hammamet Airport in order to drop off equipment required at the airport for another aircraft,” a spokesperson for TUI Airways said.

“The equipment was for the TOM529 aircraft, which suffered a technical; issue prior to its departure and needed engineering support”.

“We’d like to apologise again for any inconvenience caused and thank customers for their patience and understanding,” the statement continued.

Rather unusually, TUI Airways confirmed that passengers would be able to claim compensation under EU261. Passengers were also offered a complimentary drink onboard.

It’s relatively easy to make a compensation claim under the EU’s air passenger regulations for delayed or cancelled flights which are known as EC261 (or the British equivalent, which is referred to as UK261).

There can, however, be a fair amount of haggling with airlines over whether they are actually responsible and therefore required to pay compensation, so many passengers with a valid claim make use of specialist claims agencies like AirHelp.

Companies like AirHelp make their money by taking a small cut from any compensation that is paid out but passengers who lack the time or effort to submit a claim find the service offered by AirHelp pretty useful. You can check whether you have a valid claim here.

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