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Sun, Nov 20, 2011

Nobody Flies For Free! Comtel Asks Passengers For Gas Money

And Not Just A Little ... How About $31,000

When a Comtel charter flight from Amritsar, India to Britain landed in Vienna, where the airline is based, for fuel, the passengers got a bit of a rude awakening. The airline said the passengers in transit were going to have to pay for the fuel to continue the trip.

The Associated Press reports that Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a video in which a Comtel crew member is seen telling the passengers they would have to kick in some cash if they wanted to continue their trip to Birmingham, U.K. "We need some money to pay the fuel, pay the airport, pay everything we need," the crewmember said.

Passengers without cash in their pockets or purses were told to deplane ... one at a time ... in order to get money from ATMs in the airport. They were asked for about $205 each, but children under two were allowed to continue without paying.

In all, the flight was delayed about six hours while the passengers scraped together enough cash to get them flying again, and they did eventually reach Birmingham.

The charter company told the AP that the problem was with travel agents who booked passengers on the flight but did not pass the money along to the airline. Comtel's parent company Bhupinder Kandra insists that it is solvent, though a similar problem cropped up Thursday when passengers on a flight that had not yet departed Amritsar were required to pay an additional $200 before the flight could take off.

Meanwhile, Birmingham Airport Officials said that all Comtel flights for the weekend had been cancelled, though Kandra said all flights would operate on schedule. India Today reports that more than 600 people on four flights were thought to have been affected by the issue.

FMI: http://dgca.nic.in, www.comtelair.at/index.php?id=2&L=1

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