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More problems for Air Scotland at Glasgow airport

15.10.05

Passengers were stranded for almost 8 hours at Glasgow Airport yesterday when budget airline Air Scotland had its one plane impounded. The company is in a dispute with BP over unpaid fuel bills, and this left 221 passengers stranded in Glasgow before an agreement was finally reached that let them fly out.

The latest delay followed Thursday's problems when passengers at Edinburgh airport and Malaga faced 10 hour delays as the airline struggled to refuel its ageing Boeing 757 jet. Then yesterday police were called to Glasgow Airport to quell angry passengers, who were supposed to leave at 06:00 for Athens. Bosses from the BAA said they had no choice but to impound the aircraft when it finally arrived at Glasgow from Malaga at 09:00.

Air Scotland had been involved in a dispute over a £14,000 fuel bill yesterday, which was eventually paid. But it was then caught up in a row over another fuel bill at Glasgow. After being told to go to Gate 50 passengers thought they were almost on their way, but were then told the plane was being refused a refuel. Passengers were finally on their way at 13:30 after a 7½ hour delay.

Nichola O'Brien, Air Scotland manager, blamed the problems on the transition of ownership, but she denied there was anything more than a cashflow problem. 'Air Scotland is certainly not going belly-up. I know there are rumours we are going bust, but that is not true. The staff are freaking out and the passengers are freaking out, but at the end of the day it's just not true.' She said the problem over the fuel bills was due to confusion over the transition of ownership.

The crisis came hours after Air Scotland's founder, Iraqi-born Bearsden travel agent Dhia Al-Ani, said he was selling his share in the business. He announced his retirement after being challenged over reports the airline was up for sale.

A spokeswoman for the BAA, which owns Glasgow Airport, said: 'I can't comment on whether funds were made available to allow the plane to fly or whether this was again a goodwill gesture by ourselves.'

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