Wait is over for families reunited after cancelled flights

MORE international flights landed in the North East yesterday to the relief of crowds of concerned families eager to be reunited with their loved ones.

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MORE international flights landed in the North East yesterday to the relief of crowds of concerned families eager to be reunited with their loved ones.

Passengers on the Emirates flight from Dubai finally made it home yesterday to the delight of those who had packed into Newcastle Airport’s arrivals lounge yesterday morning.

Free from the limbo of not knowing when they’d be back, the weary travellers received a relieved welcome from their families.

They were among the thousands of holidaymakers caught up in travel chaos caused when an ash cloud from a volcanic eruption Iceland grounded all flights in UK airspace last Thursday.

With restrictions eased on Tuesday night by the Civil Aviation Authority, airlines were quick to act and clear the backlog of stranded passengers. For Joanne Malton it was the news she’d been anxiously waiting for as she rushed to the airport yesterday with son Adam, four, to be among the first waiting for planes to land.

Her daughters Jessica, 13 and Katherine, 11, had been away since April 2 travelling to Dubai to visit their dad.

Joanne, 39, from Stockton, said: “I was devastated when I heard their flights were being cancelled. People have said I should take comfort in them being with their dad but it is so difficult to be away for your children for this length of time.

“The problem has been just not knowing when I’d see them next. This is the longest we’ve ever been apart from each other.”

It is hoped more North East passengers can be reunited with their families as airlines continue this week to reschedule flights. However, there are warnings it could be weeks before services return to normal.

Some flights due to land at Newcastle yesterday remained cancelled and a Thomas Cook flight expected at 10.40am was diverted to Glasgow. But the airport’s head of planning Graeme Mason was optimistic, saying: “We are delighted to be operating, and while we are not fully operational, as the days go by we hope to build it back up to normality.

“We should be operating as normal by the weekend.”

As the first arrivals walked through the gates Cluney Jones from South Shields was looking in the crowds for son Elliot, 30, one-year-old granddaughter May and pregnant daughter-in-law Kate, 30.

The family had been on holiday in Australia for two weeks and were on their way home when flights were grounded. She said: “It has been awful not knowing when they’d be home. I’d lay in bed at night worrying about them.

“Each day flights were being cancelled and then I got a call at 2.30am saying by some miracle the ban on flying into the UK has been lifted. The first couple of days it was OK but the longer it went on the more concerned you get.”

Earlier this week the first European travellers arrived back to the region after an epic overland coach journey from southern Spain.

Coaches packed with weary passengers who’d crossed Europe to get home, finally arrived in the North East after a 1,200-mile trek.


David Whetstone
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