Passengers wait 24 hours for flight as TUI unable to confirm end to chaos
- Credit: TUI/Philip Waller
What should be the highlight of many people's year has turned into a living nightmare as chaos continues at Norwich Airport.
Droves of TUI flights have been delayed in recent weeks with some passengers now being delayed by more than 24 hours.
A spokeswoman for the airline said operational disruption is "a broad industry issue".
On Tuesday alone, the 12.15pm TUI flight from Palma Mallorca to Norwich was diverted via Doncaster.
Meanwhile the 1.40pm departure to Heraklion was estimated to depart at 10pm at the earliest the same day.
Passengers on the Mallorca flight were not informed about being transferred to Doncaster until they were sat on the plane.
Thorpe St Andrew county councillor Ian Mackie, who was among them, said: "This follows a pattern of serious disruption to TUI flights.
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"I heard many saying they would not use Norwich Airport again. I fear that's the biggest loser in this disruption.
"Better contingency plans need to be put in place - quickly."
The flight from Norwich to Dalaman scheduled for Sunday was also delayed overnight due to operational disruption with passengers transferred to Gatwick Airport instead.
John Pollitt, 56 and his wife Jackie, 53, who both work at City College, were delayed by more than 24 hours getting from Dalaman back to Norwich.
Their flight was originally scheduled to depart at 2pm on Monday but was put back to 11.55pm on Tuesday.
The couple - who flew out to Turkey to celebrate both of their birthdays with their 17-year-old son Liam - will now be landing at London Gatwick.
Mr Pollitt - who lives in Frettenham - said: "We have had to get cover for work and it has cost us about £150 for the extra night and taxi to the airport. I am hoping we can claim from TUI.
"All the uncertainty has put a massive downer on the holiday. For the first 17 hours of delay, we heard nothing."
Commenting on the delay from Norwich to Dalaman, a TUI spokeswoman said: "Unfortunately, a number of delays meant the aircraft and assigned crew weren’t able to operate this flight and we’ve had to put another team in place.
"We were able to allocate a larger Boeing 787 for this flight. However this aircraft type is not permitted to operate from Norwich Airport, so the flight departed from Gatwick Airport."
There was even further disruption to a TUI flight from Ibiza to Norwich on Saturday, July 23 which set off, did a circuit, then landed back in Ibiza after a bird hit the aircraft.
Passengers were flown on an alternative TUI flight to Gatwick Airport with coach transfers.
The disruption is causing concern for TUI customers with upcoming flights including Philip Waller, who is meant to fly to Mallorca on August 6 for a family holiday.
He said: "We are worried. A lot of airports are struggling but it is a real concern."
It comes as passengers due to fly out to Rhodes from Norwich last Wednesday were sent to London, only to be transferred back to Norwich the following morning for a flight.
Those landing at Gatwick instead of Norwich from Rhodes were then left waiting two hours for taxis that night as TUI had not provided enough spaces on the coach transfer home.
Following pressure from this newspaper TUI has admitted its operational issues are due to staff shortages.
When asked what it is doing to rectify the situation, TUI's managing director Andrew Flintham said there are five extra planes on standby.
But when pressed for when city customers could expect an end to the chaos the airline came up empty-handed.
Instead it pledged to "improve communication" and thanked customers for their patience.
Mr Flintham added: "We’ve recruited more staff, we have more aircraft available, and we’ve further improved the way we communicate with customers to help them in the unlikely event things don’t go to plan."
A spokeswoman for Norwich Airport said: "It's an airline issue, not an airport issue.
"There is not much we can do unfortunately."