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The Great Escape – Touch and go whether Sunday’s passengers would fly out


After Saturday’s (22nd August) incoming flight touched the runway two hours late and after circling a few times took advantage of a brief clear patch in the cloud, mist, wind and rain.  Sunday’s departure to Jo’burg was also touch and go 26 hours late leaving.  Once again, a short respite from the very scruffy weather meant the take-off for the return flight to South Africa was as much luck as it was judgment. One passenger arriving on Saturday said the mist cloaked the runway once more before they reached the terminal building. The return flight to Jo’burg rescheduled to 1 p.m. on Monday, was also late leaving. 

It’s 1:30 pm on Monday afternoon – no sign of life on the airport apron

Re-timed to 3 pm. The plane left a few minutes after that time, but not after worried passengers wondered whether they would leave that day.

Among the passengers were Mark Brooks and Dax Richards.  They intended to get to Gibraltar via Jo’burg and London.  Further flights and a string of hotel bookings needed to be re-arranged because the plane did not leave for Jo’burg on Sunday.  At 1:30 pm on Monday afternoon, there was great anxiety that the re-arranged bookings would need to be re-arranged again.

Dax was grimly stabbing his finger at his mobile, checking on flight availability if Plan B went pear-shaped and a Plan C had to be called into action.  Mark was gloomily looking nowhere in particular uttering dark mutterings about the future of tourism.  Attempts to lighten his mood by reminding him it is winter; we can expect some flight cancellations and it is not the season for tourists, were not successful.

Dax started muttering too.  The lost hotel deposits, only the taxes refundable from the airline tickets not used.  For a moment he stopped muttering; no doubt wondering what the reaction would be from the Gibraltar government who had kindly offered to pay all travel and accommodation expenses.

Mark and Dax get re-acquainted with Adam Pile, Deputy Director Overseas Territories - credit @Adam Pile

Mark Brooks returned from thinking about the dark side of tourism and worked out he would miss the Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons.  He also had some people to call on at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.  If the plane did not leave that Monday afternoon, Kedell Worboys would have to re-schedule all of that.

Thankfully the plane did leave at 3 pm and a Plan C was not required.  The Gibraltar government would not have two sets of cancellation costs to pay for and Mark would get to see Prime Minister’s Question Time.


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