Belgians blocked in Croatia after technical issue with airBaltic aircraft operating for Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium

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Many Belgians blocked in Croatia since 09:00 this Saturday morning after technical issue with an airBaltic aircraft operating on behalf of Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium

AirBaltic Boeing 737-500 YL-BBD

Some Belgians blocked at Dubrovnik Airport, Croatia, contacted RTL-TVI television channel. “We had to take off at 09:45 on flight HQ1237 from Dubrovnik to Brussels, but we are still waiting for flight HQ1236 (Brussels-Dubrovnik) scheduled to take off from Belgium at 06:40,” Christophe explained at 16:35. “The hostess of Thomas Cook is not aware of anything. The airport has given us 3 vouchers since this morning, but we have to look for the information by ourselves,” added the inhabitant of Anderlecht.

Sophie, another passenger, confirmed the problem. “We are more or less 130 people stuck here. Maybe there will be a plane that will take off from Brussels at 17:00, and so maybe a return flight for us at 19:50…; we’re crossing our fingers!” said she around 16:30.

Explanations of the company

RTL contacted Thomas Cook’s spokesperson for more details. Karl Desmet explained there are 81 customers of Thomas Cook and Neckermann on site, taken care of by Thomas Cook Airlines. “The plane that was supposed to reach Dubrovnik from Brussels had a breakdown, a sensor was broken,” said Desmet. The flight was finally cancelled around 17:15, to the great despair of Sophie and the other tourists. The culprit is an airBaltic Boeing 737-500 registered YL-BBQ, operated on wet-lease for Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium.

Faced with this unforeseen event, the spokesman assures that vouchers have been provided to allow passengers to eat. As for the communication problem, Karl Desmet points to a specificity of Dubrovnik airport. “The passengers are in the transit zone, and in Dubrovnik, our employees cannot go to this area to inform our customers directly, so we are dependent on the airport to inform passengers,” said Desmet.

However, other tourists said they did not receive vouchers and they were not in the transit area. This was confirmed by Sophie. “We passed the controls and we received vouchers, twice 7 € and once 12 €. But it is true that some people did not pass the controls and that they are indeed on the other side without anything! “, she said at about 19:15.

As for the solution found, it may not please everyone. “Our customers will return in two groups, the first one with 41 people, mainly families, will return this Saturday to see around 21:00 via a flight from Brussels Airlines. For the second group of 40 people, we are still looking for a solution via Belgrade (Serbia), either during the night or on Sunday morning,” said spokesman Thomas Cook-Neckermann. “In any case, if our customers have to wait too long, they will be accommodated in a hotel at our own expense, whether in Dubrovnik or Belgrade,” he added.

Indeed, Brussels Airlines has deployed a larger aircraft, the Airbus A320 registered OO-SNA (Belgian Red Devils livery) instead of the usual A319, to Dubrovnik in order to pick up its own passengers and some of the Thomas Cook stranded tourists. This plane, scheduled at 21:00 from Dubrovnik as SN3352, eventually left at 22:45.

Copyright Bram Botterman

Source: RTL info and own research.

Forum discussionhttp://www.luchtzak.be/forums/viewtopic.php?p=354571#p354565

2 COMMENTS

  1. What bothers me in this story, is that nobody mentioned that ” Thomas Cook” never took contact with anyone of us before 21h05.
    We were picked up at the hotel round 06h45, and on that moment the flight was already ” DELAYED “.
    It is true that we were never informed by Dubrovnik Airport, never seen a crisis manager, we were left on our own.
    If we asked for information we received pieces and very vague information in a very unprofessional way.
    Thomas Cook has the numbers of everybody and our email addresses.
    So they had the possibility to inform us but…. they didn’t.
    At 17h10 I saw on my smartphone that the flight was cancelled in Brussels ??????
    So I went again to the information desk for some information, but they had not received the update yet.
    In the following time, still no news from Thomas Cook.
    Finally, at 21h05, Olivier Everaerts of Thomas Cook was allowed to come in to the terminal zone.
    After 13 hours and 35 minutes.
    Then we received the news about the cancelled plane and that they were going to bring the rest of the passengers to a hotel for the night. He did the best he could.
    The next day we were taken to the airport at 13h00 for a flight to Frankfurt with Condor airlines.
    At the airport of Frankfurt, we had to inform ourselves where we had to check in. There was again nobody from Thomas Cook.
    And we had not received any copy or document what to do next, just the flight number.
    Luckily, the helpdesk of Condor could help us with that flight number, and they were very friendly.
    The next flight was with Lufthansa, again very helpful and friendly.
    They were both professional.
    What a difference with Dubrovnik airport and Thomas Cook….
    Passenger Geert

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