Updated at 3.30pm; adds Air Malta statement
An Air Malta flight to Gatwick on Saturday has been delayed by 14 hours.
Questions sent to the airline have not yet been answered but in a statement later said the flight was delayed “for operational reasons” (see below).
The flight, KM116 was due to leave at 8.40am but is now scheduled for 10.10pm.
Sources said that after about an hour, passengers were brought down from the aircraft and taken back to the terminal building. Their luggage was removed from the hold.
The sources said this was the same aircraft that was involved in two other delays in the past 24 hours. One of them involved a flight to Linate in Milan on Friday afternoon, the other to Catania a few hours later.
Tourism shadow minister Robert Arrigo expressed solidarity with the affected passengers and said that Air Malta's decision to lease an aircraft from Lithuania had been hasty and without logistic cordinatorn with the renter.
While it agreed that the national airline should grow, strengthen and create more employment, it also believed in good, professional planning for decisions not to leave a negative impact on Air Malta's reputation.
Air Malta statement
Air Malta said in astatement the flight was delayed “for operational reasons”.
It said that “putting its customers first, and to minimise inconvenience, guests would be accommodated in nearby hotels and offered refreshments in line with the delay’s duration”.
The flight, Air Malta said, was scheduled to be operated by a wet leased aircraft which was brought in to help with the increased flight schedule currently being operated by the airline.
The short-term wet lease of this aircraft was necessary due to the fact that the delivery of the ninth aircraft was delayed by the leasing company.
“Such wet lease is necessary until the two new aircraft secured by Air Malta will be delivered by the suppliers shortly,” it said.
The airline said that other flights might be impacted as a consequence of the delay.
It apologised for any inconvenience caused and stressed it gave the utmost importance to the safety and well-being of its clients and staff.
It said it had spared no effort to minimise the inconvenience to passengers due to circumstances beyond its control.
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