Airline passengers were delayed for nearly three hours after a pilot was left stranded in motorway traffic.
The captain of the Thomson Airways service from Manchester to Turkey was among thousands of motorists caught up in long delays on the M56 near Chester after a crash between a lorry and two cars. The incident near junction 14 at Hapsford at around 4.30am yesterday caused diesel to spill onto the east-bound carriageway, which remained closed until 11am when the spillage was cleared. No one was hurt.
The pilot managed to get to Manchester Airport, where his jet had already been delayed for two hours due to a technical problem. Flight TOM714, which had been due to leave for Dalaman at 7am, eventually departed at 9.50am with 229 passengers on board.
An airline spokeswoman said: “Thomson Airways can confirm that flight TOM714 from Manchester to Dalaman, Turkey, was delayed by two hours because of a technical issue with the aircraft. The aircraft was delayed by a further 50 minutes as some members of cabin crew allocated to the flight were not available due to the M56 in Manchester being closed following an incident. The aircraft departed from Manchester Airport at 9.50am. The traffic congestion in Manchester did not cause delays to any other Thomson Airways aircraft.
“We would like to reassure customers that delays such as these are extremely rare. However, we would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused.”