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Stoic travellers hit by the Flybe chaos at Belfast City Airport tell of sympathy for staff

There was little sign of anger amongst Flybe passengers at Belfast City Airport yesterday despite being left stranded by the airline's collapse.

Among them was Neil Owen (62) from Basingstoke, who was waiting to travel with Aer Lingus to Heathrow at lunchtime after his early morning Flybe flight to Southampton was cancelled.

"I got a text at 5am from Flybe to say they had gone into administration so I started looking for alternatives and found this flight to London," he said.

"From there, I'll have to hop on a coach to Woking and then get a train to Southampton Airport to collect my car and drive home.

"Yes, it will take me a lot longer to get home, but at least I will be there later.

"It's more of an inconvenience and I feel fortunate as others will be much worse off than me.

"I had read in the paper on Wednesday that Flybe was really struggling - I hoped they wouldn't go down today or tomorrow - so it didn't come as a complete surprise.

The crew who were on my flight over to Belfast have no jobs today so I feel for them Neil Owen

"But Flybe's routes are bound to interest other carriers and I'm sure a lot of them will be restored reasonably quickly.

"I don't feel any anger at all. It's disappointing, but no more than that.

"The crew who were on my flight over to Belfast have no jobs today so I feel for them."

Also waiting was Lekan Abasi (61), who was due to catch a flight to Manchester en route to visit his elderly mother in Nigeria. Instead, he had to rebook with KLM via Amsterdam.

"I try to see my family twice a year and they were all expecting me there," he said.

"I will now have to spend a night in Amsterdam and fly on to Nigeria.

"I arrived here at the airport about 4.25am for a 6.30am flight but the whole place was empty.

"It was a shock to be told that there's no Flybe anymore. I couldn't believe it.

"The staff all looked very emotional so it was really sad to see."

Terry Canning, founder and chief executive of agri-tech business Cattle Eye, was in Southampton for work when his travel plans were upended.

On Wednesday night the 46-year-old, who lives in Belfast, got a message that his flight home was cancelled.

He is now safely back but missed an important technology conference in Dublin as a result.

He said: "I got stranded by Flybe from Southampton but managed to get back via Bristol to Dublin and got the bus back to Belfast.

"All's well that ends well, but the cancellation of the flight meant that I missed a conference about artificial intelligence that I was supposed to speak at at Croke Park in Dublin."

An elderly survivor of the infamous Srebrenica massacre, Munira Subasic had been visiting Belfast along with a charity colleague Elmina Kulasic, both from Bosnia.

Mrs Subasic lost her husband and her youngest son in the atrocity, in which at least 8,000 people were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.

The peace campaigner was invited to Belfast this week as part of a delegation from UK charity Remembering Srebrenica.

She had attended several engagements, including giving talks to pupils and meeting Northern Ireland politicians from all parties with a message of peace and reconciliation.

The charity's director Amil Khan said the delegation had all travelled on a Flybe flight from Birmingham to Belfast on Monday for a week of events.

He said the collapse meant additional complications for getting Mrs Subasic (72), who is on medication, safely back home.

Her visa requirements, which mean her onward travel has to be from the UK, rendered the group unable to arrange an alternative flight from Dublin.

Matters were further complicated as there is no direct flight from the UK to Bosnia, so Mrs Subasic, who is from Sarajevo, and Mrs Kulasic, would have to fly home via Vienna.

Mr Khan said: "I saw what was unfolding. My heart sank so I started looking for alternatives."

He said he had been considering catching the ferry, but that they got lucky when he managed to book the last three seats on an easyJet flight to Liverpool's John Lennon Airport leaving at 9.20 last night.

Flying to Liverpool would mean staying overnight in a hotel before making the train journey to Birmingham, where Mrs Subasic could catch her connection on to Vienna.

Mr Khan said: "You just always assume the option to fly home, if something does go wrong, will be there. That's when it hit home."

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