French airport strike leaves 25 Hartlepool holidaymakers stuck in Spain

Left to right, Lynn and John Kearney and Karin and Jim Manchester
Left to right, Lynn and John Kearney and Karin and Jim Manchester

TWENTY-FIVE people from Hartlepool are stranded in a Spanish hotel after flights were cancelled due to French airport strikes.

The holidaymakers were due to fly home from Alicante airport on Wednesday, but were turned away as thousands of passengers scrambled in the chaos.

They were forced to hole up in a nearby hotel and told the earliest they will be able to fly home is tomorrow.

Two couples from Hartlepool and East Durham contacted the Mail after they were forced to find another hotel and shell out an extra 422 euros (£359) to cover their accommodation and food following separate holidays in Spain.

John and Lynn Kearney, from the South Fens area of Hartlepool, flew out to Benidorm on Sunday, June 2 and were due back on Wednesday after spending 10 days in Benidorm’s Magic Villa hotel.

But upon arriving for their 17.35pm Newcastle-bound easyJet flight, they were faced with “queues out the door” and confusion over flights.

Lynn, a 58-year-old auditor married to John, a 54-year-old printer, said: “We were taken to the airport, but were told the flight was cancelled.

“The recommendation was to look for accommodation ourselves.

“We don’t need to be back for work yet, but our main concern is the cost - we have had to pay an extra 422 euros, but that does not include our drinks.

“I’m a bit disappointed that we haven’t been kept informed and had to do everything ourselves.

“I’m just wondering at what point we’ll be able to claim back the incurred costs, and do the reps have the authority to say we can?”

They rang the Holiday Inn, in San Juan, and managed to book a room there, where they met East Durham couple Karin and Jim Manchester, who are in the same situation.

Karin, 52, and Jim, 51, who owns a landscape garden company, flew out to Spain on Wednesday, June 5 to visit Karin’s father in Benidorm and were due to return home on the same plane.

Retired school nurse and sister Karin said: “There’s such a controversy over here and we are not being told anything.

“We were at the airport on Wednesday for seven hours and told to find our own hotel and had to pay money up-front - there are about 25 people from Hartlepool in this hotel alone.

“We have paid an extra 422 euros so far, but then that doesn’t include the extra 70 euros in taxis each way.”

Karin, who featured in the Mail in 2007 in a diary about her leukaemia diagnosis, is now in remission, but she still takes Vitamin B12 injections and says the stress of the holiday delay is not helping her condition.

And the chaos has affected thousands of travellers heading for Spain.

Gail Adams, from Hartlepool’s Headland, was due to fly to Alicante with six family and friends on Wednesday, but was told due to the strikes her flight was delayed until today.

It comes after around 1,800 services across France were cancelled on Tuesday as demonstrators in Air Traffic Control protested against a planned overhaul of aviation by the European Commission.

It means air space restrictions over France have had a knock-on effect on numerous flights to and from sunshine destinations including Spain and North Africa.

Those booked on flights were urged to check with their airlines to ensure services were running on the second day of industrial action.

easyJet said 66 flights to and from the UK were cancelled - the majority of which were either French domestic services or planes travelling between France and other European countries.

A spokesman said: “easyJet has made every effort to minimise the disruption caused to our passengers by the strike action and have accommodated customers in around 10,000 hotel rooms across Europe.

“Unfortunately in Alicante we were not able to secure enough hotel rooms and asked the remaining passengers to make their own hotel bookings for which we will reimburse them.

“Although the disruption was beyond easyJet’s control – we apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers.”