Flybe apologises as disabled people blamed for Belfast flight delay
An airline has apologised for blaming disabled passengers and "shoddy equipment" after a flight from Manchester to Belfast was delayed.
Passengers travelling on the Flybe flight were left shocked after one of the pilots said the "shoddy equipment" at Manchester Airport was the reason for the two-hour delay.
The frank statement came an hour after airline staff blamed issues with disabled passengers for the setback.
Co Down man David (who does not want his surname published) said he was left "disgusted and appalled" by the remarks.
Flybe has launched an investigation into the incident.
"I cannot believe staff blamed wheelchair passengers as their excuse for being late," he said. "Then to be told the equipment was shoddy, we were worried."
The 39-year-old businessman said: "We went to the gate to get the flight and the gentleman calling the flight said it was delayed by five minutes because they couldn't get the wheelchair passengers off the aircraft.
"Then he came back on about 20 minutes later and said they were still delayed due to the disabled passengers.
"After that they came back and said they had technical problems with the plane. So we waited.
"I had a meeting in Belfast, so I asked one of the staff members if I could change my flight but I was told that I wasn't able to."
Some time later, passengers were allowed to board the flight, although they were shocked to hear an unexpected announcement from the pilot.
It's understood the pilot said: "I'm not going to sugarcoat it, but the delay was due to technical problems and shoddy equipment at Manchester Airport."
David continued: "While it was good to hear a bit of honesty from the pilot, everyone looked at each other in fear and shock."
David was informed that technical problems with the auxiliary power unit had caused the delay.
In an email to the businessman, Flybe said: "Having had the opportunity to reflect on the terminology used during this particular announcement, we accept that the information could have been relayed in a more appropriate way.
"This has been taken up with the pilot concerned, who stated he intended no offence and will in future ensure he is a little more measured when making future announcements.
"We would also apologise for the cabin crew comments for the misinformation regarding the comments made on board.
"As this was not the reason for the delay to this flight, I would like to extend our apologies for the misinformation which was provided to you from the flight crew, and for any added frustration this caused while waiting for departure."
David added: "When I discovered that the excuse about disabled passengers wasn't true I was fuming and I expressed that concern to Flybe.
"I was appalled they would use disabled passengers as an excuse for a technical fault. I fly at least once or twice a week, so it's not a nice experience."