SINGAPORE - More than 300 passengers on a Singapore-bound Scoot flight remain stranded in Greece for a second day after a technical fault on the Boeing 787 plane led to multiple delays.
The passengers, including Singaporeans and those transiting in Singapore, took to social media to complain about having to board and disembark the plane several times.
In response to queries, a spokesman for the budget carrier said that Flight TR713 was originally due to depart Athens at 11.20am on Tuesday (Dec 18) but met with a delay due to "operational considerations arising from equipment limitations".
The spokesman said that as it took longer than expected to resolve the issue, the 321 passengers on board were told to disembark for their convenience. They were given snacks and refreshments.
Passengers were able to board the aircraft again after the technical issue was resolved, but "in the midst of doing so, the operating crew's flight time limits unfortunately ran out", the spokesman added.
This meant that the aircraft had to be grounded and Scoot had to reschedule the departure time to 11am the next day.
Hotel accommodation and meals were provided to passengers during this period.
But on Wednesday, after passengers boarded the plane for a third time, Scoot was told that the flight approval had been revoked when the plane was already preparing to leave the gate.
Ms Natalie Cooke, 35, whose parents were due to arrive in Singapore on Wednesday on TR713, told The Straits Times that her parents were stuck on board the flight on Tuesday without water for four hours, before they were asked to disembark as the crew's flight time limits had run out.
While the airline had offered them accommodation for Tuesday night, it was at the Marriott Hotel in central Athens, which was an hour's journey away.
"It was too far for my parents, and my father was too sick to travel back and forth to the airport. I had to book them a room at the hotel airport," she said.
Ms Cooke works in Singapore as a client services director and her parents are flying in for their first family reunion in two years. However, her family decided not to put up with Scoot's repeated flight delays and her parents are due to land in Singapore on Friday morning, after Ms Cooke rebooked them on a Singapore Airlines flight which will transit in Milan.
She added that there are many Singaporean passengers who are stranded and unable to book alternate flights to Singapore.
Ms Ali McManus, an Australian who lives in London, was on her way to Singapore for a three-day vacation with her partner when their flight was delayed. The couple had planned to travel to Melbourne as well, where her partner was supposed to visit his family for the first time in 10 years, but they will be missing their Melbourne flight.
The 28-year-old told ST that she had not received any information about the flight delays directly from Scoot, but had to rely mostly on airport staff and other passengers for updates.
"I know this is what we as customers of budget carriers need to expect, but this is unacceptable to me. If you provide a service, and ask people to pay you for a service, it's expected that the service is carried out," she added.
She said that passengers had checked in and boarded the flight on Wednesday after they were given a revised departure time of 10.25am. However, despite sitting through the safety briefing and pre-flight procedures, passengers were told that the Athens air traffic control staff were not letting the plane leave.
Several other social media users also expressed their frustration over the multiple delays and said that they had little information on the cause.https://twitter.com/sunimalr/status/1075351090802122754
In its statement on Thursday, Scoot said it is arranging to send a plane to Athens to bring affected passengers back to Singapore.
The flight was scheduled for 1.05pm on Thursday (7.05pm Singapore time).
But in an updated statement on Thursday afternoon, Scoot said that the flight is now set to depart at 7pm. It added that it will update passengers directly if there are any changes.
Ms McManus said on Twitter that she was not informed of Scoot's latest flight change from 1pm to 7pm on Thursday, and found out only from hotel staff and other passengers at the hotel lobby when she was leaving for the airport.
Meanwhile, Scoot said that it has sourced for and made accommodation and meal arrangements for the passengers.
"Scoot sincerely apologises for this extended flight disruption and the inconvenience it had caused to our customers' travel plans," the spokesman said.
"Affected customers can opt for a refund via vouchers or to their mode of payment, if they prefer not to continue their travel with Scoot."
Those who choose to take Thursday's flight back to Singapore will be compensated based on Scoot's policy for delays, said the spokesman, who did not say how many passengers have opted for a refund so far.