Contaminated fuel in Tel Aviv airport

The cancellation of the easyJet return flight from Tel Aviv had an unusual explanation: contaminated fuel at the Tel Aviv airport. Who would have paid the passenger compensation?

When a quick check of flights of easyJet Switzerland shows that some have been operated with aircraft belonging to easyJet UK (or vice versa), it is always interesting to investigate why. Yesterday, 5 April, the evening flights to and from London Gatwick were done with UK aircraft, giving rise to some considerable delays in the last two departures for Gatwick, but the cause was an unrelated problem elsewhere.

According to reports, a problem of contaminated fuel caused the authorities of Tel Aviv airport to stop all refuelling of aircraft. Amongst the many airlines and flights affected was the easyJet Switzerland flight EZS1525, which left Geneva at 7h10 am, and which should have returned in the afternoon as flight EZS1526. Since it did not return, the aircraft involved - an airbus A320 registered as HB-JZR - was them stuck in Tel Aviv.

However, this does not explain the necessity of using a UK aircraft, since easyJet Switzerland supposedly has a spare aircraft in Geneva. Unfortunately (for Gatwick passengers), there was no such spare aircraft in Geneva yesterday. This raises the usual questions as to the veracity of statements by the Geneva airport management that a spare aircraft is available.

There is also the small problem that the missing aircraft is one of only three big A320 aircraft of easyJet Switzerland, and one of these three (HB-JZX) is currently stationed in Basel and operates also to Tel Aviv (and fortunately managed to return to Basel yesterday!). Thus, today (Friday 6 April), some Geneva flights normally operated with an A320 may instead have to use a smaller A319. If these are fully booked then some passengers will probably have to be bounced off.

Interestingly, today this newspaper is reporting that the Swiss Civil Aviation Office, OFAC, is investigating whether 14 different airlines have been avoiding paying correct compensation to passengers of delayed or cancelled flights. Apparently, they have been receiving numerous complaints from aggrieved passengers. Amongst these 14 companies is easyJet, but not Swiss.

Assuming that the passengers on all affected flights (Tel Aviv, Gatwick and possibly some flights today) are correctly compensated, I wonder who will foot the bill!


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