Airline Cancellations

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 announced.

The move by Austrian-registered Comtel Air comes as some UK passengers are still stranded abroad, while others are battling to get their money back after being ``held to ransom'' on the Tarmac at Vienna airport earlier this week.

Only one of the two Comtel flights from the Indian city of Amritsar to Birmingham via Vienna took off last weekend.

With passengers stuck in Amritsar, those that did take off said they had to raise £20,000 to fund the rest of the trip from Vienna to Birmingham. They were stuck at Vienna for six hours and the flight that should have got back to Birmingham on Saturday only arrived on Tuesday morning.

A Birmingham airport spokeswoman said Comtel had told the airport that this Saturday's and Sunday's Birmingham-Amritsar return flights via Vienna had been cancelled.

``They said we would know in the next couple of days about flights after that,'' the spokeswoman added.

Passengers who booked for the Comtel flights as part of a package would be protected by the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing scheme run by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) .

However, both the CAA and travel organisation Abta stressed that some of those who had booked flight-only deals may not be financially covered.

A Foreign Office spokesman said:

"We are aware that a number of British nationals have been affected by difficulties with Comtel airlines flights from Amritsar to Birmingham via Vienna. We have been, and remain, in touch with the relevant authorities including the airline for clarification on how British nationals due to fly in the coming days will be affected.''

Our current advice to anyone affected is to contact their tour operator, travel agent or the airline for further information and about possible alternative arrangements. We would also advise that they monitor our travel advice for India for any updates.''