80 Irish on mission to Lourdes stranded in France after Ryanair cancels flight

‘We had a fantastic and exhausting week and this is just a nightmare’

More than half the group on the trip with the Oblate Youth Service are believed to be secondary school students.

More than half the group on the trip with the Oblate Youth Service are believed to be secondary school students.

 

Eighty Irish people have been left stranded in France on Saturday night after a flight to Dublin was abruptly cancelled by Ryanair.

The group, who had been on a mission to Lourdes with the Oblate Youth Service, had been due to return to Ireland on a 3.15pm service, which was not included on the list of cancellations published by the airline earlier this week.

Siobhán Kelly from Co Offaly said they were twice told the flight from Biarritz Airport was delayed, before eventually discovering they would not be travelling on Saturday at all.

Bags scattered in Biarritz Airport after the group were informed their flight was cancelled.
Bags scattered in Biarritz Airport after the group were informed their flight was cancelled.

“We help really sick people, kids and elderly every year to have a great holiday so we are all very tired,” said the 21-year-old. “We had a fantastic and exhausting week and this is just a nightmare.”

A statement on the Oblate Youth Service Facebook page described the airline as extremely unhelpful. “They have offered us 30 seats on a flight from Carcassonne on Tuesday and have told us to make our own travel arrangements. Extremely disappointed with the complete lack of assistance and dismissiveness shown by Ryanair.”

In a statement on Saturday night, Ryanair said the Biarritz-Dublin flight was “regrettably cancelled after the inbound aircraft was unable to land at Biarritz Airport due to the closure of the runway.

“Customers were provided with refreshment vouchers and overnight accommodation and will board a replacement flight in the morning. Ryanair sincerely apologised to all customers affected by this cancellation, which was entirely beyond our control.”

Up to 400,000 passengers will be affected by Ryanair cancellations until October 31st arising from a shortage of pilots due to annual leave. CEO Michael O’Leary conceded last week that the situation is “a mess”.