By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THOUSANDS of British air passengers were either trapped in Balearic airports for a second day yesterday or stuck in the UK waiting to fly down to the islands as a result of the covert strike mounted by air traffic controllers at 5pm on Friday.

With Iberia, easyJet and Ryanair having postponed all flights yesterday, local hoteliers claimed that around 200'000 people had been hit by the wild cat strike with the situation not expected to return to normal for the next 24 to 48 hours, despite airspace having been reopened yesterday afternoon.

Former Irish Guard and Majorca resident Stan Bowles's travel nightmare got worse yesterday.
He had already lost a flight to Gatwick from Palma on Thursday because Gatwick was closed by the snow and, with an important appointment in the UK, opted to fly via Minorca into Luton on Friday night because of the lack of seats available out of Palma.

However, his flight to Luton was due to take off at 9pm, but because of the covert strike and the closure of Spanish air space, the plane he was due to have caught, was turned back to the UK. After having spent the night in a hotel, he was unable to board a ferry back to Palma yesterday and was facing the prospect of spending another night in Minorca and hopefully catching an early ferry or flight this morning in order to catch a flight to the UK tomorrow to attend a funeral on Tuesday. “It's been the worst 48 hours of my life, a nightmare. No information at the airport and the phone lines to the airline are constantly busy, none of us here can get through, not even friends back in the UK. “It's costing me a fortune. I'm keeping all the receipts for hotel and food etc. and hopefully might get something back but to be honest, I just want to get on a flight and soon.” “But, it appears that the airlines have hiked the seat prices. What they should be doing is putting on extra flights and charging a flat rate of 50 pounds or something so we can get moving. “There are businessmen here with me and we're all stranded,” he said yesterday. “It's a nightmare.”

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