After spending two nights in a hotel, passengers on a Tunisair flight from Djerba to Brussels finally returned home, 43 hours after their first scheduled departure time. French media (Le Point and La Voix du Nord) picked up the story and wrote about the long delay.
On Saturday 23 February, 110 passengers were waiting for their 14:45 flight to Brussels (TU668 to be operated by Boeing 737-600 TS-IOR). First, a delay was announced due to a technical issue. Then, the airline deployed a second aircraft but, according to Benoît, a resident of Wattignies, Belgium, the pilot refused to depart; neither the airline nor the pilot gave an explanation for the cancellation. Passengers were forced to head back through customs and baggage collection and were accommodated in a local hotel.
The next day, passengers returned to Djerba Airport but the flight was cancelled again. Reason? Due to heavy crosswinds, the Boeing wasn’t allowed to take off. “That’s very strange: while several Airbus aircraft are taking off, our aircraft is not, as it’s a Boeing and apparently there is too much wind for this type of aircraft,” Benoît said. Meanwhile, tensions rose at the boarding area. Angry passengers waited for an explanation but Tunisair employees refused to come forward for fear of being attacked. Finally, a Tunisair representative made a speech, but that didn’t suffice to calm the passengers.
Two days after the initial flight (on 25 February), Tunisair rerouted a bigger Airbus A330-200 (TS-IFM) from Tunis to Djerba. The aircraft arrived in Brussels Airport with a delay of 43 hours as flight TU788, a flight number used for Tunis-Brussels flights.
Not only the flight to Brussels was disturbed: on Monday night, 400 passengers for Nice, Paris Orly and Nantes were still stuck in Djerba. And Tunisair’s Monday evening flight between Djerba and Nantes never took off.