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38 hour delay for Helios Glasgow airport passengers after more plane problems

11.10.05

150 Scottish holidaymakers were stranded at Glasgow Airport yesterday, more than 36 hours after they should have flown out to Cyprus. It follows the latest air scare involving the controversial Cypriot airline, Helios Airways.

Bosses at Helios cancelled Sunday's flight from Glasgow, after a Larnaca - Glasgow passenger jet carrying 180 people turned back to Cyprus just 35 minutes after take-off because of a technical fault. Two days earlier the same plane was involved in a similar scare on its way to Heathrow airport.

The two sets of passengers stranded both at home and in Cyprus were furious about the delays and criticised Helios for failing to keep them informed. Many still in Glasgow were considering cancelling their holidays altogether due to increasing safety worries about Helios aircraft.

At Glasgow around 150 passengers were waiting for news of their flight in the nearby Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport, where they were given overnight accommodation. Their flight had been scheduled to leave at 11.10 on Sunday morning, but eventually left in the early hours of this morning.

Haris Thrasou, the Cypriot transport minister, ordered the aircraft to be grounded on Sunday while checks were carried out by the country's Department of Civil Aviation and a Boeing engineer. A spokesman for Helios said the Boeing 737-800 finally passed all safety checks and flew out of Larnaca at 19:00 last night, with a return flight taking off at 01:00 this morning.

The spokesman said: 'The aircraft has been repaired by our resident Boeing engineer and has been given the all-clear by the Civil Aviation Authority in Cyprus. All passengers have been kept safe and comfortable and those in Larnaca have been informed of the revised flight time.'

'The technical issue with the aircraft was due to a problem with tone of the engines. The captain decided to return to Larnaca but the flight could have continued. He did not make an emergency landing.'

'The cabin pressure was not affected and neither was the flow of oxygen to the cabin crew. There was no impact upon the safety and comfort of passengers.' Helios was involved in Greece's worst aviation disaster on August 14, when 121 people were killed when one of its planes crashed near Athens.

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