Comtel Air Holds Passengers Hostage for Gas Money, Cancels Flights

You may think that your airline ticket covers everything from your seat, to the pilot’s salary, to the gas that fuels the plane, but you probably haven’t flown with Comtel Air. The airline was accused last week of holding a group of passengers “hostage” as they demanded that they fork over extra cash for fuel.

The economic situation for Comtel Air grew worse today as the company decided to cancel all of its flights in and out of the UK, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded abroad.

The Daily Mail reports that hundreds of passengers are fighting to be reimbursed for the “gas money” that was taken from them last Tuesday in Vienna. According to the BBC, passengers were taxied to an ATM so that they could come up with the $35,000 Comtel Air needed to complete the flight.

Sue Ockwell, a crisis management expert at Travel PR, said:

“It’s a bit like, well, boarding a train and saying that you can’t go on because they’ve cut the electricity off because they haven’t paid the bill.”

The Economic Times reports that the British aviation authority has now intervened to make sure that passengers are reimbursed and that stranded passengers get new flights.

Nick Stevenson from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said:

“What we are doing with those people now is organizing special fares on BMI flights back to England that they will be able to take and then claim money back from the Civil Aviation Authority to repay for that.”

Comtel Air said that it cancelled the flights after travel agency Skyjet did not make its payments and filed for bankruptcy. The cancellations left about 180 people stranded in India.