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The BBC's Caroline Thomsett reports
"Another frustrating night for passengers"
 real 56k

EasyJet spokesperson, Samantha Day
"It is not just a low cost airline that would have this problem"
 real 28k

Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 13:36 GMT
Tempers flare over frozen planes
Defrosting a plane
EasyJet blames cancellations on de-icing problems
The freezing weather has caused angry scenes at Luton and Liverpool airports, leading to the police being called in.

More than 100 EasyJet passengers staged a sit-in at Luton after a series of flights were cancelled because aircraft were iced up.

At Liverpool Airport one person was arrested in a disturbance which broke out after passengers were told the low-cost airline had scrapped services there too.

EasyJet has said it will refund fares for anyone delayed more than four hours and will consider other claims.

I suspect this could have been British Airways or British Midland facing the same problem at another airport

EasyJet spokesman
A spokesman for Luton airport said 200 people spent Friday night there because flights were cancelled due to the snow and freezing fog.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said there had been a disturbance at Liverpool involving disgruntled passengers.

He would not say how many people were involved but confirmed that at least one person had been arrested.

Later on Saturday, there were more problems at Luton.

Further delays

Many travellers who had been at the airport throughout the night were hoping to leave on re-scheduled flights during the morning and early in the afternoon.

But the majority of flights were again delayed - several for more than two hours.

Many flights due to arrive at the airport were also delayed.

EasyJet blamed the latest problems on bad weather at various European airports and on delays in checking in.

Stranded passenger
Passengers have spent hours waiting
A spokesman said the chaos was caused by a problem with a firm that it used to de-ice its planes.

"Of course we apologise for any inconvenience that our passengers have suffered," he said.

"Basically, we were badly let down by a sub-contractor we employ to de-ice aircraft.

"Because the aircraft were not de-iced we could not fly and therefore had to cancel flights last night.

"But to be fair this could have happened to any other airline, we cannot control the weather.

"I suspect this could have been British Airways or British Midland facing the same problem at another airport."

'Lack of information'

Karen Kemmett, 30, from Brighton, Sussex, was due to fly to Barcelona on Friday but spent the night at Luton. She said the problem was lack of information.

"There was no concern, no-one here to tell us anything, no cups of coffee, no nothing," she said.

"Quite a few people had had enough. It was quite understandable."

Lucy O'Neill, who celebrated her 31st birthday on Friday, said staff and customers had broken down in tears.

There was no-one around at all to answer any questions or offer any help

Lucy O'Neill
"One lady was flying to Barcelona to get married and was very upset because she couldn't get hold of her husband-to-be to tell him what was happening," she said.

"At one stage the police were called and there were a couple of incidents. One guy got very irate with one of the check-in girls. She just walked off in tears.

"Then passengers started arguing amongst themselves. Some were trying to defend the girl and said it wasn't her fault.

"There was no-one around at all to answer any questions or offer any help."

Flooding danger

Weather experts warn the cold weather which has caused transport chaos across the UK will last until late on 1 January.

Temperatures have plummeted and to add to people's misery there is a danger of flooding when the snow eventually thaws.

The Meteorological Office has issued an early warning of blizzards and drifting snow on New Year's Eve.

Cumbria, north-east England and Scotland are currently facing the worst weather.

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See also:

29 Dec 00 | Scotland
Hogmanay freeze warning
28 Dec 00 | Wales
Aircraft skids on icy runway
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