Disruption forces Houston on to ferry and Cleese into cab


GROUNDED FLIGHTS:A GROUP of British businessmen hired a taxi in Belfast to take them to London and singer Whitney Houston was forced to come to Dublin by car ferry, as a result of the closure of Irish airports.

Elsewhere comedian John Cleese took a taxi from Oslo to Brussels as flights across the continent were grounded.

Belfast taxi driver Joe Duffy (45) who works for the city’s Fonacab company was pictured at Belfast docks after completing a trip from Belfast to London for a group of businessmen stranded by the flight disruption. Some were medics who needed to get home to see their patients, the cabbie said.

Singer Whitney Houston was forced to ditch the trappings of stardom in favour of the car ferry when British airspace was closed.

The 46-year-old star, who is in the middle of her Nothing But Love world tour, said she opted for the boat in order to make the first of three nights at the O2 in Dublin tonight.

“When Whitney was made aware of the airport closures due to the volcanic ash, she made the decision to drive from Birmingham to Dublin via the ferry so that she would not disappoint her Irish fans,” promoters said.

“She is delighted to be in Ireland and is very much looking forward to performing.”

Ferry firm Stena Line said it received a booking for Houston’s entourage on the Nordica superferry into Dublin Port. The boat ride takes about three hours 15 minutes.

It is understood Houston left Birmingham, where the European leg of the tour began this week, travelling by car to Holyhead in North Wales.

The singer, who is playing Dublin tomorrow, Sunday and Tuesday, urged her record company to publicise her travel arrangements to ease concerns among fans the shows may be cancelled.

Meanwhile, London rap star Dizzee Rascal and WWE wrestlers were booked on other ferry services to honour engagements in Dublin and Belfast.

Irish Ferries had attempted a similar gig rescue yesterday when they reserved a seat on a sailing for tenor Russell Watson. Despite securing one of the last tickets on a sold-out ferry to Dublin, the singer did not take up the offer as he would only have had just 20 minutes to prepare for the performance with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. The show has been rescheduled.

Stena Line’s Eamonn Hewitt reported some 6,000 extra foot passengers and 2,000 extra cars were carried across the Irish Sea over the last two days, a 700 per cent rise in business.

However, he said services could handle the increase in traffic. “With four round trips a day out of Dublin; two out of Dún Laoghaire and two from Rosslare, along with another five from Belfast the capacity is there – people should not have to worry,” he said.

Irish Ferries also have a choice of two ferry routes between Britain and Ireland, including Dublin to Holyhead and Rosslare to Pembroke.

Monty Python star John Cleese took a daylong cab ride from Oslo to the Belgian capital, costing him nearly €4,000. Cleese had visited the Norwegian capital to participate in the talk show Skavlan.

The 1,500km trip took about 15 hours, passing through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.