Pay-out fight as plane's fuel stop leads to 16-hour delay
A DERBY holiday-maker has criticised an airline for refusing to pay compensation to passengers who suffered a 16-hour delay after an unscheduled diversion.
Tina Brown and husband Stephen were on a Monarch Airlines flight forced to divert because it was running out of fuel.
Monarch said the flight, from Hurghada, in Egypt, to Manchester, had to land at Venice due to strong headwinds, which it said had not been forecast, that caused the aircraft to burn more fuel.
But when it came to refuelling the aircraft at Venice, a fault with a fuel tank valve was discovered – the start of problems which led to the long delay.
Mrs Brown, of Grampian Way, Sinfin, said: "Monarch has decided that it can get out of paying compensation to us by citing 'extraordinary circumstances' that led to the delay.
"But I feel it's unfair that we work hard to pay for our holiday only to be let down by Monarch, who have decided to hide behind excuses.
"Even if I'm unsuccessful in getting compensation I feel other holiday-makers should be made aware of this and get clued up on their rights as a consumer.
"This whole episode has taken the shine off what was a fantastic holiday and I won't be flying with Monarch again."
Mrs Brown had gone to Egypt to celebrate her 50th birthday.
Since arriving back in the UK after the September 21 flight she has been trying to claim compensation from Monarch by citing an EU ruling.
The EU Regulation 261/2004 states passengers can be compensated if their flight is cancelled or the subject of long delays.
But the same regulation also states carriers do not have to pay compensation if the delays are caused by "extraordinary circumstances" that are out of the control of the airline.
In a statement, the airline said: "Monarch Airlines regrets the disruption caused to passengers on flight MON5329.
"Monarch is satisfied this was indeed an extraordinary circumstance that could not have reasonably been prevented."
When the fuel valve problem was spotted passengers were told to disembark while engineers fixed the fault. But they had to endure several hours of delays as Monarch needed to replace the crew before the aircraft could continue on its journey.
Monarch said the new crew had to be flown out to Venice from the UK.
Mrs Brown said that passengers were issued with vouchers to get food and drink but were not given updates on when their flight would be taking off.
She is now considering taking her complaint further by writing to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Guidance issued by the CAA states: "Passengers should be aware that they may not actually be entitled to compensation if their flight was delayed due to extraordinary circumstances which are outside the airline's control, for example, if there were poor weather conditions."