Guernsey Press

Aurigny passengers had to sleep in airport overnight

MORE than 100 Aurigny passengers were left to find their own places to sleep at 1am on Monday morning, as local hotels were full, the airline has said.

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Lightning and storm clouds over St Peter Port on Sunday night. (Picture by Kayleigh Mills)

Neither of Sunday night’s Gatwick services managed to land into the island, as the airport suffered from severe disruption.

While the 5.30pm flight from Gatwick managed to land only 30 minutes late, the later 6.35pm flight was repeatedly bumped back, until it was cancelled at 11.20pm.

The 8.55pm flight from Gatwick held overhead before turning back to London.

Guernseyman Alan Ward said his Aurigny plane was turned back from Guernsey at midnight.

‘They kicked us off the plane at 1am last night after Guernsey airport closed and did not offer any accommodation for the 70 passengers, who were left to fend for themselves, with all hotels booked to capacity,’ he said yesterday morning.

‘We are still waiting now with next to no communication. A lot of angry people here.’

Passengers ended up finding places around North and South terminals to sleep, he said.

‘We “slept” on chairs at the Sofitel, but you're not actually allowed to sleep there.

‘And one guy had his phone pinched while he was "camping" in Wetherspoons.’

He praised the pilot for trying to get into Guernsey, but criticised Aurigny for what happened next.

Mr Ward finally arrived back in to Guernsey yesterday afternoon.

An Aurigny spokesman said services were severely disrupted by electrical storms, though every effort was made to get travellers to their destinations.

But that was not possible with the Gatwick services, leaving 122 passengers at the London airport.

‘The specifics of last night were that with multiple airlines cancelling flights, all the local hotels around Gatwick were fully booked,’ the airline spokesman said.

‘In these circumstances we have to consider what is best for our customers.’

It was decided that asking the passengers to wait, while the few Aurigny staff called individual hotels and taxis, would take longer than getting passengers to make their own arrangements and reimbursing them.

‘We chose the latter to ensure customers found rooms and transport in far less time than it would have taken us,’ he said.

‘Of course, there were a few customers who were unable to do this themselves, so we did help them.

‘Our advice to customers under these circumstances is to find the best reasonably priced and closest accommodation to the airport that they can and keep the receipts to enable them to reclaim the costs from ourselves.’

Nearly three weeks'-worth of rain fell on Sunday, with 27.1mm over a 24-hour period.

No flights landed between 7pm and 8.30pm on Sunday night.

The 3.15pm flight from Birmingham had to divert to Southampton, and only managed to land into Guernsey at 7pm.

However, not all flights were so badly affected.

The 8.45pm flight from Southampton was delayed by only 15 minutes.

And, unusually, one plane that did manage to land during the bad weather was a flight from Alderney, with the 7.35pm getting into Guernsey an hour late.

The knock-on effect of the disruption saw Aurigny apologising to passengers yesterday morning, and severe disruption to most flights yesterday.

‘Delays remain across our network and we are working hard to minimise these,' said the spokesman.