TROUBLED budget airline Air Scotland descended deeper into crisis yesterday as hundreds of passengers were left stranded across Europe.
A series of delayed flights led to chaos for Scots travellers in the UK, Spain and Greece.
The latest problems to hit the airline - which had the worst UK punctuality record in a report by Holiday Which? - began with the delay of a Glasgow to Malaga flight, due to depart at 7am on Sunday.
Passengers were instead bussed to Manchester, from where they eventually took off at 5pm yesterday - 34 hours late.
Meanwhile, hundreds were left stranded in Malaga and police were called to calm furious passengers at the Spanish airport.
A flight from Glasgow to Athens also took off three hours late.
The airline have only one plane, with delays leading to inevitable knock-on effects.
No official from Air Scotland was available to tell furious passengers what was to blame for the latest fiasco.
Charlie Ready, 51, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, was one of the passengers due to fly to Malaga.
He said: "There was one delay after another and eventually we were bussed down to Manchester.
"Then there were more problems and we were put up in a hotel for the night.
"A lot of people, like myself, are only going away for a week so we've already lost a fair chunk of our holiday."
He added: "Air Scotland told us nothing. What information we got was from staff at Servisair who handled the check-in.
"We heard there was a technical problem with our plane - then we heard they had an aircraft but didn't have a crew.
"I do not know how Air Scotland are allowed to operate."
Fellow passenger Charlotte McCafferty, 43, of Glasgow, said: "It's a shambles. Our holiday will be over before we've even got there."
Stevie Mackie, 43, of Lanark, gave up waiting at Malaga and booked alternative flights home.
He said: "I'm going to be out of pocket but my partner has to get home for business reasons, so we've not really got a choice. If we leave it to Air Scotland, we just don't know when we'll get home.
"It got to the stage at Malaga Airport where it was a like a mini-Culloden. People were so fed-up at the delays and at not being told anything."
The delays also hit Air Scotland's services to the Greek capital.
No one at the airline's Glasgow office was available for comment.
An answerphone message stated: "Our offices are now closed. Messages are not being accepted."
Air Scotland were set up as the trading name of Greece Airways as a budget airline to rival easy Jet and flyglobespan, but the operators have lurched from one crisis to another.
They suffered serious problems in their first few weeks of operation in 2003 when their contract with aircraft supplier Electra Airlines was axed.
The split left two pounds 30million jets impounded at Edinburgh and Glasgow in a dispute over landing fees.
Last year, hundreds of Scots holidaymakers were left stranded after the airline hit cash trouble.
Almost 500 angry travellers were left in the lurch in Edinburgh and Malaga as the crisis unfolded.
Flights were grounded after fuel bills were left unpaid following a decision by their owner, Iraqi-born Dhao Al-Ani, to sell his shares to a Spanish firm, Cupar Consultants.
Holidaymakers had to endure hours of frustration as the airline persuaded fuel suppliers and airport bosses to allow them to fly.
Even then, the pilot and cabin staff were forced to walk out as they had exceeded their legal time on shift.
By the time an alternative flight crew were found, travellers had been forced to wait for more than 10 hours in the cramped airports.
In August 2003, 100 holidaymakers had to sleep in cardboard boxes after their flight was delayed by 24 hours.
About 140 passengers flying from Palma, Majorca, to Edinburgh were stranded after technical problems with their aircraft.
RECORD VIEW: Page 8
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