Northern Ireland

Easyjet: Ballymena school children disappointed by cancelled trip

The pupils from Slemish College had been planning the trip for over a year
Image caption The pupils from Slemish College had been planning the trip for over a year

A group of Ballymena school children have missed out on a trip to Poland after airline Easyjet cancelled their flights.

More than 40 history pupils from Slemish College had been planning the trip for over a year.

However, when they arrived at the airport at 05:00 BST on Sunday morning, they found their flight was cancelled.

Easyjet said the cancellation was because of air traffic control restrictions and weather conditions.

History teacher Paula McHugh said Easyjet did offer alternative arrangements, but none were suitable.

Image caption History teacher Paula McHugh who was leading the trip to Poland

"The only option they could come up with was to fly part of the group to Malaga, then to Madrid, then to Krakow which would be a 16-hour journey.

"They couldn't accommodate the whole group so this just wasn't an option," she said.

The group, who have been studying the Holocaust, were supposed to be meeting a survivor as well as visiting the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp during their tour of Poland, which was due to end on Wednesday.

Image caption Slemish College pupil Julia Millar said students were really excited about the trip

Slemish College pupil Julia Millar, 15, was one of those who missed out.

She said: "I feel devastated and we don't really know what to do. We could have been in Poland but instead we're in Ballymena.

"We were told about this trip at the start of the year and we couldn't wait, we were really excited about it.

"Some people have already given away their uniforms to charity because they thought, that because we were going away, school would be over when we got back."

Image caption Curtis McIlhagga said the trip to Poland would have 'brought history alive' for the students

Curtis McIlhagga, also 15, was disappointed too.

"Meeting someone like a Holocaust survivor, like we were meant to today, would have really brought history alive for us."

"Friends of mine have been to Auschwitz and they say while it's not good to see, it's something that's very informative and we know, our generation, that we can't go back to something like that."

In a statement to the BBC, Easyjet said the flights had been cancelled due to air traffic control restrictions and weather conditions across Europe over the weekend.

Image caption Easyjet said it had done everything it could to find alternative flights

The airline said: "The crew for this flight had been delayed on previous flights and could not operate this flight as it would exceed their legal operating hours.

"We did everything possible and explored all options to find alternative flights for all passengers. We would like to sincerely apologise that no other flights were available until this coming Tuesday and the group will not be able to travel.

"All passengers who did not travel are entitled to a full fare refund and an additional €250 per passenger in compensation."