A HOLIDAY company has apologised to a couple from South Tyneside after a holiday flight to Newcastle was diverted to Manchester just 20 minutes before it was due to land.
Colin and Susan Renaut, from Cleadon, South Tyneside, were on a flight from Gran Canaria to Newcastle when they ended up having to complete their journey by coach because of “operational instructions”.
Passengers later heard their flight was diverted so the Thomas Cook plane could take a flight straight from Manchester to The Gambia.
“They just moved our flight,” said father-of-two Mr Renaut, 55, who was returning from a two-week holiday.
“The pilot said it was because of ‘operational instructions’ but they did not tell us until we were approaching Manchester to land.
“We thought it must have been bad weather at Newcastle or an accident. The pilot said a representative from Thomas Cook would meet us at the baggage collection area to give us more information.”
Passengers were told coaches would take them back to Newcastle.
A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook Airlines said: “We’d like to thank our passengers for their understanding, and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused when it became necessary to re-route TCX6105 into Manchester on Monday.”
However, passengers were furious that Thomas Cook had delayed them to make way for another flight.
Pauline Holland, a 64-year-old former company director from Tyneside, said: “To me, it is wrong that they are not going to compensate people because we were inconvenienced.
“We probably saved Thomas Cook a lot of money because if the people going to the Gambia had not got their flight, they would have had to put them up in a hotel and feed them.”
Passengers also complained no official representative from Thomas Cook was there to look after them, but a spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said Servisair acts as its official airport agent at Manchester Airport and had people on hand for passengers.
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said it is rare for changes like this to occur, but it is allowed as long as airlines are able to get passengers to their destination within four hours of the scheduled arrival time.