Europe

Ryanair passengers refuse to leave plane in protest

Ryanair aircraft
Image caption The planes were diverted to Liege due to heavy fog conditions

More than 100 angry Ryanair passengers staged a sit-in in an aircraft cabin for several hours on Wednesday after their flight was diverted to Belgium.

The travellers, mostly French tourists returning from holiday in Morocco, were bound for Beauvais, in northern France.

But their flight - along with three other Ryanair flights - was forced to land in Liege instead.

Roughly 100 passengers on board ended up spending a total of eight hours on the plane before agreeing to leave.

"It was a very tense situation," said Christian Delcourt, the spokesman for the Liege Airport.

"Some of these people were very aggressive, very rude."

Passengers from the three other diverted Ryanair planes accepted the offer of bus transportation to Beauvais, some 350km (225 miles) away.

But those on the fourth plane refused to leave.

"The passengers were unreasonable and refused to follow the advice which would have allowed them to complete their journey," Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara said in a statement.

Negotiations

Passengers told AFP that the flight had left Fez in Morocco three hours late but had been unable to land at Beauvais, some 85km (53 miles) north of Paris.

It instead landed in Liege at about 2330 local time but passengers only agreed to get off after 0330, with the bus leaving at 0430.

"The plane did not land in Beauvais but in Liege without warning. Consequently, we refused to leave the plane," Mylene Netange told AFP.

Reda Yahiyaoui, a businessman who was travelling with his wife, a two-month-old baby and a three-year-old, said passengers had been left with no water and the toilets in the plane were locked.

"The pilot left and he even left the cockpit door open," he said.

Mr McNamara denied that the crew had abandoned the passengers, saying that they had stayed in the plane for an hour before leaving and adding that they only disembarked when passengers became "disruptive".

Diverting planes to the nearest airport in case of fog is standard procedure, he said, emphasising that the passengers would have been returned home by bus earlier if they had not protested.

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