East Midlands Airport (EMA) is ‘pretty well back to normal,’ according to Penny Coates, the airport’s director, almost 14 days after the eruption of the Eyjafjoll volcano grounded hundreds of flights across the world.
The first plane in almost a week landed at the Castle Donnington site on 21st April – last Wednesday morning. The airliner, which was a Thomas Cook branded flight from Tenerife, was greeted by applause from staff. A red carpet was also laid out, and champagne offered to new arrivals.
Up to 3,000 people were shepherded through East Midlands on the same day, many of whom had been given just two hours to pack their bags and make their way to the nearest airport. ‘We were just sitting around the pool,’ one returnee explained. ‘We didn’t dare go too far away in case we got a call to say we’d got a flight.’
Despite all the celebrations, some holidaymakers were visibly despondent over their extended holiday. People on the Thomas Cook flight from Tenerife were described as ‘very quiet,’ and ‘tired’ by fellow passengers. EMA bosses have also cause to feel blue this week, after six days of flight restrictions cost the airport a hefty £600,000.
Efforts to rescue stranded Brits continue even today, but it seems that customers’ patience with world airlines is beginning to wear thin. British Airways (BA), for example, has been accused of profiteering, after the price of tickets skyrocketed at the weekend. BA boss, Willie Walsh, claims that his airline is simply trying to ‘discourage’ new customers.