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British Airways Pilot Describes Florence Flight as an ‘Absolute Shambles’ After Passengers Were Offloaded to Get On a Bus

British Airways Pilot Describes Florence Flight as an ‘Absolute Shambles’ After Passengers Were Offloaded to Get On a Bus

a plane taking off from a runway

A British Airways pilot reportedly described the way the airline dealt with tricky operating conditions at Florence Airport in Tuscany over the weekend as an “absolute shambles” after passengers had to be offloaded to get on a bus for a 15-minute drive to Pisa, where the plane flew the short distance to pick them up.

British Airways launched its eagerly anticipated route between Heathrow Airport and Florence in April, but the service has proved to be particularly challenging, and flights are often subject to delay, diversion and frequent cancellation.

These issues should have been anticipated by British Airways as Florence is a notoriously difficult airport for airlines due to its short one-directional runway and other limiting factors, including strong cross winds and hot temperatures during the summer.

In fact, BA’s inaugural flight at the start of the summer season was forced to divert to Pisa Airport, just 42 miles away, due to weather conditions that made it impossible for the Airbus A320neo used on the route to actually land in Florence.

Similar issues have plagued the service all Summer, and on Saturday, passengers on the return flight faced yet another disrupted journey when they boarded the plane and were then told that some of them would have to be offloaded to get the plane down to a safe weight for it to take off.

According to one of the passengers who wrote about the experience on FlyerTalk, they sat on the plane for three hours while the pilots negotiated with BA’s head office in London over how many passengers needed to be booted.

In the end, they decided 50 passengers had to get off, collect their luggage and then get on a bus to Pisa, where the plane and the rest of the passengers would fly in order to pick them up and take them the rest of the way to Heathrow.

The four-year-old Airbus A320neo departed Florence at just after 3 pm on Saturday and landed in Pisa a short time later to pick up the other passengers. This should have been a fairly quick process, but after landing, the pilots discovered the bus with the 50 remaining passengers hadn’t even yet left Florence.

In the end, the flight didn’t leave Pisa until nearly 8 pm – eight hours behind schedule.

British Airways admits that Florence is a challenging airport to operate to and from, but the airline says that its fuel-efficient A320neo has finally made the route possible from its Heathrow hub.

The airline also serves Florence from London City Airport with smaller Embraer E190 aircraft.

In a statement, the airline commented: “We’re sorry for the delay to our customers’ travel plans due to weather conditions in Florence. Our teams worked hard to get them on their way as quickly as possible.”

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