Government says it advised easyJet in good time
easyJet says it had to cancel a flight to the Isle of Man on Saturday due to Ronaldsway being 'unable to accommodate’ its request for an extension to the opening hours.
The 7.15pm flight from London Gatwick was shelved with some passengers left struggling to find accommodation until the journey could be rescheduled two days later.
Ramsey resident Sharon Hotchkiss was one of those affected – her despair at being stranded in London, with her family, went viral on social media.
On Twitter she documented how her group – which included her elderly mother who is recovering from cancer and three children – waited more than nine hours to be found accommodation in Brighton.
easyJet initially told Manx Radio it was ‘very sorry’ that it cancelled the flight on 25 June.
It said: “This was due to a delay caused by air traffic control restrictions which unfortunately meant the flight would not have arrived in the Isle of Man before the airport curfew.
“Our team has been in contact with the family to ensure their wellbeing and arranged hotel accommodation and transferred them for free to the next available flight.
“While this was outside of our control we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation. The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our highest priority.”
In response the Isle of Man Airport told Manx Radio the published closing time for Ronaldsway is normally 8.45pm however a seasonal extension – to 9.30pm – has been agreed.
This is to accommodate easyJet’s evening service.
It said: “It is not unusual for the operator to experience delays across its network during the day and requests are often received for a further extension beyond 9.30pm.
“These are almost always agreed to a limit of 11pm to ensure staff and resources are available for re-opening the following morning.
“While staff at Isle of Man Airport will always work hard to accommodate passengers arriving on a late flight, the operator on this occasion made the decision not to fly to the Island at around 3pm on Saturday afternoon.”
It’s understood that some passengers due to travel on EZY 855 were only informed of the cancellation of the service around an hour before the plane was due to leave London Gatwick.
Manx Radio asked easyJet for clarification over when the decision was made to cancel the flight and when passengers were informed of this.
In response easyJet said it had requested an additional extension to the opening hours at Ronaldsway on 25 June but was told no.
It said: “The airport advised that on this occasion they would be unable to accommodate this and so we unfortunately had to take the decision to cancel the flights.
“In these circumstances we inform passengers of cancellations as soon as they are confirmed and while this went to customers immediately via our Flight Tracker earlier in the day it appears there was unfortunately a delay in these customers receiving the notification via email.
“We are investigating why this happened and are very sorry for the difficulty this caused.”
Isle of Man Airport has confirmed to Manx Radio it rejected the extension but said the airline had been given advance notice this would be the case.
A spokesperson added: “Saturday was one of those occasions when a further extension past 9.30pm was not possible due to staffing constraints.
“This information was communicated to all operators at around 1.15pm.”