An Air France flight had to be diverted because company rules demanded the pilot have a rest, according to a report in the Local. Passengers were left stranded for 12 hours in Manchester, even though the final destination for the flight was just one hour away in Paris.
The A380 flight was originally scheduled to fly from New York to Paris, but was delayed for six hours due to heavy snow. But if passengers thought they were out of the woods, they were proved very wrong as the flight headed over the Atlantic.
The pilot announced that strict Air France rules meant he was only allowed to be at the controls of the plane for a certain amount of time. He explained flying all the way to Paris would exceed this time, and the company viewed this as dangerous. As a result the flight would be diverted to Manchester Airport, so he could have a rest.
An irate passenger told BFM TV: “People are going crazy. We’ve been here since noon and we have three children with us. There are also unaccompanied minors who have been left by themselves without any supervision. These children are crying.”
Air France’s spokesperson said not respecting the rest times would be the equivalent of “someone driving at 180km/h with two grams of alcohol in the blood.”
They claimed the crew had hoped to make it all the way to Paris by making up time during the flight. However this did not materialise, making the stopover necessary. In the end, the passengers arrived at Paris 18 hours later than they had expected.
The diversion of the plane is unlikely to do anything to help the French reputation for being unwilling to work. Their aviation is particularly prone to strikes, walkouts and strict rules that make life difficult for passengers.