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Family stranded in India after airline is grounded finds way out - for £5,500

PUBLISHED: 20:04 18 April 2019 | UPDATED: 20:04 18 April 2019

Gary Howard, his daughter Naiara (left), partner Freny Fernandes (right) and her daughter Naina. They are stranded in Goa after Jet Airways suspended all flights. PHOTO: Gary Howard

Gary Howard, his daughter Naiara (left), partner Freny Fernandes (right) and her daughter Naina. They are stranded in Goa after Jet Airways suspended all flights. PHOTO: Gary Howard

Gary Howard

A Norfolk family who were offered plane tickets home for a total of £16,000 after being stranded in India have found a way out - but it will cost them £5,500.

Jet Airways has cancelled all flights Pic: Archant.Jet Airways has cancelled all flights Pic: Archant.

Gary Howard and his family are among thousands facing the Easter bank holiday weekend stuck in India and a huge fare home after Jet Airways cancelled all flights, creating a travel nightmare.

And as flights booked up fast after the news broke yesterday, Norfolk travel agents said people could be stranded for as long as a week, with one saying: “It's going to be very tricky to get home any time soon.”

The cost of flights home were soaring. On some routes, not even some of the most expensive fares in business class were available in a week's time from Mumbai nor Delhi to Heathrow.

The advice from Jet Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority was bleak for stranded passengers in terms of getting alternative flights or expenses paid for accommodation or travel incurred.

Some people were lucky enough to get the last flights available, including one Norfolk beautician and her friend who managed to get booked onto the last two seats out of Mumbai on BA tomorrow.

Mr Howard, from Norwich, his partner Freny Fernandes, her daughter Naina and his, Naiara, both 12, were quoted £4,000 flights each from Southall Travel. After 24 hours of stress, they booked flights for a total of £5,500 on Easter Monday.

A Southall spokesman said: “Mr Howard is not the only person affected. We have thousands who are and we are in a helpless situation. All we can do is provide options for passengers and it's their call whether they take them or not but the prices are on the high side because of so much demand.”

Bill Irwin, who runs West Norfolk Travel, based in South Wootton, said no direct flights were showing from Mumbai to the UK by the afternoon – with the one he could find being from Delhi with Emirates airline for £13,000 for four.

Mr Howard said: “On the flight over we had no in-flight entertainment for nine hours, so there were obviously money problems for the airline even then.

“We had a great time until yesterday, when I received an email saying our flight from Mumbai to London had been cancelled. I then received a message saying the flight from Goa to Mumbai had also been cancelled.”

He added: “Southall Travel said they can refund us the return flight – about £900 in total – in four weeks' time. I've since spoken to Southall again and been told we can have free flights with Etihad in mid May. But the girls have to go to school and we both work.”

Mr Howard said they were all “absolutely devastated”, adding: “The girls have been in tears. We've enjoyed a lovely holiday, but the last two days have been ruined. We were going to have a spa day and relax, but that's not happened.”

Jet Airways suspended all its flights after failing to find fresh funding and being unable to pay for fuel and other services after landing £900m in debt.

Jet Airways has temporarily suspended all its domestic and international flights after failing to find fresh funding.

The last flight operated on Wednesday as it was not able to pay for fuel and other critical services.

It has $1.2bn (£900m) debt and has been in talks with lenders for weeks.

Jet Airways, which has 123 planes, was once India's biggest private airline, but reports say that just five planes have been in use.

In a statement the airline said it had been forced to ground all its flights because “prolonged and sustained efforts with lenders and authorities did not yield the desired results”.

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