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Bulgaria ski passengers stranded at Aldergrove

IRATE Ulster holidaymakers were today left stranded after their trip to Bulgaria was cancelled due to problems over flight documents.

IRATE Ulster holidaymakers were today left stranded after their trip to Bulgaria was cancelled due to problems over flight documents.

Shocked travellers are now staying in hotels near Belfast International Airport eagerly waiting for news on the future of their Millennium skiiing holiday.

The plane is the same aircraft that over 30 passengers were refused to fly with on Boxing Day.

Their dream break turned into a nightmare after their flight to Bulgaria, organised byBalkan Tours, was delayed for 13 hours.

At 2.15am today airline chiefs, flanked by airport police and officials, revealed that after an inspection the plane did not have certain legal and safety documents to allow it to carry passengers in UK air space.

As yet it is not clear how many Ulster travellers were due to board the scheduled New Year's Day flight, but it is believed to be more than 150 passengers.

It is understood a 30-plus school party from Waterford were among some of those due to board.

Furious Belfast woman Colette Morris, who was due to board the flight, said today there were angry scenes after passengers were told their dream holiday had been cancelled.

She said today: "The representative came out escorted by the airport police and made the announcement that the flight would not be going.

"There was a lot of shouting and people were obviously very frustrated."

Ms Morris, who is staying at a hotel near the airport said nominated travellers have been locked in talks to find a solution to the problem.

But she doesn't hold out much hope for a speedy solution to the crisis.

"After we were told the flight was cancelled negotiators spoke to the tour operator owner who said a chartered flight could go out today. However, the owner was not able to give a commitment that we would not have to pay for that.

''So is it looks like we are going home."

Ms Morris, who was to fly out with friends, said no amount of money could compensate for the ''holiday disaster".

"Everyone who was due to board this flight are extremely annoyed.

"A skiiing holiday is quite expensive never mind the fare. But no amount of money could compensate for the disappointment.

"We booked this holiday in August and saved up for what we hope would be a great Millennium trip.

"But it is now a disaster".

A spokesperson for Belfast International Airport today confirmed that following a 12-hour delay when legal and safety document was found to be missing, airport officials had to cancel the flight because the documents did not meet regulations.

Paul Kehoe, Managing Director of Belfast International Airport said airport staff have worked through the night to make sure the passengers were kept as comfortable as possible.

Mr Kehoe said today: ''It was up to the tour operator to ensure the safety of their chartered aircraft.

He added "Ultimate responsibility now lies with Balkan Tours to satisfy their customers and enusre that alternative arrangements are made.

"Our position legally is that if they produce an aircraft with all the proper legal and safety documentation we must let them continue to operate from our airport... We would hope that they would resolve this situation as soon as possible".