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Alderney air passengers left ‘in limbo’ in Southampton

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AURIGNY passengers were left ‘in limbo’ in Southampton after the airline cancelled their flight and some were told they could not be brought home for up to a week.

People in Alderney claim Aurigny has been running it service there and then on to Southampton with only one of its three Dornier aircraft. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 25892963)

Most of the passengers were booked on a Southampton to Alderney flight which had been due to leave at 1.10pm on Monday.

But Aurigny contacted them in August to say that it had been cancelled and that they been booked onto the 4.10pm service that day.

However, that was cancelled due to bad weather.

Aurigny provided one night’s accommodation, but passengers were told that they had to pay themselves after that.

The situation has caused an outcry on Alderney social media forums.

Campaigner Barbara Benfield noted: ‘Thomas Cook are getting passengers home more quickly and they haven’t got any planes. It’s a disgrace.’

Aurigny flights between Guernsey and Alderney were full, meaning that passengers could not be booked onto an earlier Southampton to Guernsey flight.

Sheila Stephenson, who was visiting Alderney for a holiday with her husband, was told that the earliest flight would be on Sunday.

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Alderney resident Michelle Benfield and her partner Gerry were initially told that the earliest flight that they could be booked onto was tomorrow, but have since got one flight yesterday and one today.

Their luggage is in their car which they are shipping back from Poole – their reasoning being they thought it saved them from having their baggage offloaded from the plane.

‘We’re a bit shell-shocked,’ she said. ‘We’ve been stuck before for one or two nights because of the weather and you just accept that. But when it’s not our fault and we are being left to pick up the tab and have all this inconvenience it’s harder to accept.

‘They just don’t seem to have the aircraft available for when things go wrong.’

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Mrs Stephenson wrote on social media: ‘We were two of the passengers booked on the Southampton non-flight and stuck in Southampton until Sunday, when half our visit to Alderney will be over. We are beyond annoyed and are considering giving up on visiting Alderney permanently.’

The daughter of another Alderney resident said he had been advised next Tuesday was the earliest flight onto which he could be rebooked.

Barbara Benfield, who recently gathered 700 signatures on an open letter demanding a better service from Aurigny, said the situation was ‘an absolute disgrace’.

‘This week there has been just one plane, which can only fly between Guernsey and Alderney, with no assistance from the airline to get passengers to Guernsey and put on extra flights between the islands to get people home.

‘It’s time the States of Guernsey took responsibility for what can only be seen as sabotage to Alderney by Aurigny.’

Alderney representative in the States of Guernsey, Alex Snowdon, said that both he and fellow representative Steve Roberts had submitted ‘urgent questions’ on the level of service to the States’ Trading Supervisory Board.

‘There are currently many people who are suffering significant disruption and are unable to complete journeys to and from Alderney and the airline has failed to provide the scheduled level of service for Alderney,’ he said.

‘Some people have now been delayed for days and have to pay for their own cost of accommodation.

‘There is a reputational risk for Alderney and the Bailiwick which will likely impact on tourism, business investment and quality of life.

‘Questions need to be asked as the level of service in the last few weeks with only one plane is killing our economy.’

n Aurigny said: ‘Passengers who have been unable to get to Alderney due to weather or technical delays are being moved to the next available flight.’

It said it had considered chartering a ferry, but none were operational, and was also looking at plane charters should it need to, but the operational limits of Alderney’s runway made that difficult

The airline apologised to the customers impacted.

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