Carcassonne Airport Closed!
Tuesday 18 May 2010
A Ryanair flight en route to Carcassonne found it could not land recently as there was no-one in the control tower!
The flight from Brussels to Carcassonne was diverted in mid-air to Perpignan where the 178 passengers on board were disembarked and then coached to the Cathars town.
A plane load of passengers who had been waiting at Carcassonne for their flight to Brussels were in turn advised their flight was cancelled.
It seems from local press reports that although the pilot in the Ryanair flight had obtained clearance to land at Carcassonne the plane was delayed on its departure from Brussels.
The flight from Brussels was due to land in Carcassonne at 1730, and by 2000 had not arrived.
By this time the air traffic controller had completed their scheduled hours so left the control tower and the flight to find its own means of landing in France.
The Chambre de Commerce of Carcassonne, who manage the airport, expressed surprise and anger at the incident, which they stated had cost them over €50,000 in compensation and other extra costs.
Neither was the air traffic authority at Toulouse able to give an explanation.
By contrast, the air traffic controllers trade union stated that the controller involved had completed their maximum number of working hours that day and was unable to continue at work.
They also stated that the incident was partly due to the reduction in the number of air traffic controllers at the airport in 2009.
They disputed that the controller had been unwilling to land the aircraft, stating that he was not prepared to stay on until 2030 to allow it to take off, as a result of which the pilot was obliged to divert to Perpignan.
The airport at Carcassonne has grown significantly in the large few years, largely as a result of the service introduced by Ryanair. The local Chambre de Commerce estimates that it brings in around €500 million a year extra cash to the area.