Dozens of Edinburgh pensioners stranded after flight cancelled

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DOZENS of pensioners from Edinburgh on a pilgrimage to Portugal say they have been left stranded by airline Easyjet - and could be stuck there for days.

The group - whose ages range from teenagers to members in their 80s - had been on a religious trip to the holy site of Fatima before preparing for their journey home.

The pilgrims are stranded in Lisbon.

The pilgrims are stranded in Lisbon.

But the 83 members of the group say they were left abandoned after an initial delay turned into a cancellation on Thursday.

The group, from the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh, say they were even left without food or drink while they waited on news for hours.

And among the anxiety, one of the pensioners took ill and had to be taken to hospital.

Father Scott Deeley, who is with the group in Portugal, told the Evening News: “We were at the airport at 7.30am for a 10.05am departure and we were intiially told the flight had been delayed until 12.30pm.

“Then an announcement at the airport said the flight had been cancelled and we were given no advice whatsoever as to what we do next.

“We didn’t get any offer of food or drink at the airport until I requested them at 3pm. Then there’s very little seating in Terminal 2 at the airport so many people were standing for a very long time.

“One lady had cramps in her stomach so as a precaution we took her to hospital. She is back now and fine but I don’t think this whole situation has helped at all.”

Now Easyjet - who finally put them up in a hotel - said there is nothing more they can do to get them home sooner.

Many of the group, from across the Capital, have commitments back home and eight people “broke the bank” to purchase tickets to London yesterday evening while the reamining pilgrims are stranded in the Portugese capital with an unknown return date.

Father Deeley, who is the chancellor at St Margaret’s Church, says he feels “let down” by Easyjet and believes the company hasn’t done enough to help the customers who have spent a lot of money with them.

He said: “We need to be together and it’s not acceptable. I feel the whole situation has been badly handled by Easyjet.

“They wanted to split us up into three different hotels but we managed to all get into one in the centre of Lisbon. We need a solution and fast.”

The delay in the pilgrimage’s return home has sparked another crisis - as some of the frail travelers are running out of vital medication.

Father Deeley said: “It is very concerning and many members of the group are becoming anxious. There’s also a lot of family and friends back home who are very concerned.

“We were having a wonderful time and everyone got a lot out of it.

“It is such a shame because now the trip has been ruined and it is causing a lot of dismay and anxiety among everyone. We just want to go home.”

An Easyjet spokesman said: “Easyjet can confirm that flight EZY6982 from Lisbon to Edinburgh on 26th October 2017 was cancelled due to severe fog in Lisbon, preventing our inbound aircraft from landing.

“We understand how frustrating that was for our passengers but the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is always easyJet’s highest priority.

“Widespread weather issues have caused disruption across the network, and a number of flights have been delayed, cancelled or diverted due to fog.

“Easyjet is working hard to bring all passengers back to the UK over the next few days.

“Due to the disruption, flights from affected destinations have been exceptionally busy. As we have no seats available from Lisbon to Edinburgh over the next week, we will provide seats on easyJet flights via Luton, Gatwick and Milan to Edinburgh. All affected passengers have been and will be provided with hotel accommodation where that is needed.

“Easyjet will always get all passengers home as quickly and safely as possible in these situations. Unfortunately on this occasion, it was not possible to arrange a rescue flight to recover the passengers in Lisbon due to the effects of the disruption on fleet allocation.

“While the circumstances are outside of the airline’s control, easyJet apologises for any inconvenience caused.”