UK airline fiasco: more ordeal for NRI passengers

Comtel Air, which ran chartered flights on Birmingham-Amritsar sector, cancelled more flights until November 20.

London: Hundreds of Indian-origin passengers
with valid tickets on the Birmingham-Amritsar flight operated
by an Austrian airline have been stranded in the two cities
after the company ran into financial difficulties, prompting
calls for intervention by the British government.

Comtel Air, which ran chartered flights on the lucrative
Birmingham-Amritsar sector, today cancelled more flights until
November 20.

The four more flights cancelled on the route are: the
COE732 Birmingham-Amritsar at 4.15 pm on November 18; COE702C
Amritsar-Birmingham at 4:30 am and COE732 Birmingham-Amritsar
at 6.15 pm -- both on on November 19; and COE702C
Amritsar-Birmingham at 5.30 am local time on November 20.

Many passengers flying from Amritsar had a harrowing time
over the last weekend when they were forced to cough up money
totalling 23,000 pounds mid-way into their journey at Vienna
before they could continue on the onward journey to

A furious Keith Vaz, senior Labour MP, called for
intervention by the David Cameron government, and said it was
"outrageous that consumers who in good faith purchase tickets
are left stranded for days and then asked to pay additional
money these actions can only be said to amount to air piracy".

He said he had asked the Transport Minister to intervene
immediately to help the British citizens.

Bhupinder Kandra, Comtel majority shareholder, said money
paid to travel agents had not been passed on to the airline,
which led to the situation at Vienna airport.

The Birmingham-Amritsar section is a popular one due to
the large population of Punjabi-origin living in Birmingham
and other towns of the West Midlands.

The passengers who managed to pay extra money at Vienna
and returned to Birmingham tried to contact the travel agent
who sold them the tickets, for a refund, but no one was

It is uncertain if the extra money paid at Vienna would be

An airline on which passengers claimed they were forced to
pay for refuelling to get to Birmingham has cancelled next
weekend`s services in and out of the UK, it has been

A Birmingham airport spokeswoman said: "Anyone due to
travel with the airline is advised to contact the travel
company they have booked the flights with for advice.


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