British airline passengers were forced to stage a giant whip-round and hand over £20,000 in cash after being ‘held to ransom’ by their airline.
More than 180 were left stranded on their Boeing 757 when cabin crew announced during a refuelling stop that the Austrian carrier Comtel Air had ‘run out of money’.
The plane from Amritsar, in India, was on a stopover at Vienna en route to Birmingham. Passengers were told that the flight would continue only if 23,400 euros (£20,005) was handed over. Otherwise they and their luggage would be removed from the aircraft.
Police were called in when they refused to get off. A six-hour stand-off ended only when passengers were escorted to cashpoint machines. These eventually ran out of money and many of those on board had no funds anyway.