07/22/2014

Chaos at Lyon airport last Sunday night

When four return flights of easyJet Switzerland were diverted to Lyon after midnight on Sunday 20 July there were chaotic scenes.


It is not immediately obvious what were the problems at Geneva airport last Sunday night, 20 July. Perhaps a combination of end of the day delays which quite frequently happen on a Sunday in the holiday season, plus stormy weather in Geneva, meant a shortage of arrival slots for aircraft arriving late? However, there seems not to have been any period of closure of the airport.

Whatever the reason, two aircraft landed in Geneva, and one took off, after half past midnight,  which must mean that the airport gave them a derogation. However, four returning easyJet flights, from Madrid, Gatwick, Barcelona and Palma, were all diverted to Lyon airport. Thus, several hundred passengers would then have needed to be transported back to Geneva by coach in the early hours of Monday morning.

According to one of the passengers, the situation in Lyon airport was completely out of control. First a wait of 30 minutes to disembark from the aircraft, then another 90 minutes waiting for coaches to arrive from Geneva. Since only three coaches arrived, clearly insufficient for several hundred passengers, it became a cavalry charge to get onto these first coaches.

For those that did not get onto the first coaches there was then a long wait for three more coaches to come from Geneva: someone had clearly not appreciated how many coaches would be needed! That left around 90 people who had to wait for yet another coach to arrive over an hour later. The people who got that coach then got back to Geneva around 6am. Who knows what time the remaining few got back, nor how they got back?

Since these easyJet flights had not been given a derogation, it is implicit that the airport did not consider the circumstances as "exceptional and unforeseeable". As such, the passengers should be able to claim from easyJet compensation for an arrival several hours after the scheduled time. However, I suspect that easyJet will have a different view of the situation when they start to get claims for compensation!

A nice judicial battle in prospective?

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