11/16/2011 04:21 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Comtel Plane Passengers Pony Up For Fuel As Airline Goes Broke

Passengers on a Comtel Air charter flight from Amritsar, India to Birmingham, England had to pony up roughly $31,500 for fuel during a stopover in Vienna on Tuesday after the Austrian airline went broke as the plane made the first leg of its flight.

Comtel Air had only recently begun to offer flights between India and the U.K. The Birmingham Mail reports that as many as 600 people may have been stranded by the company suddenly going bust, though most of those customers were not in the middle of their trip.

According to the Birmingham Mail, the 180 furious passengers stuck in Vienna sat on the runway for six hours before agreeing with the crew's pleas to disembark. Once on the ground, they were escorted to ATMs, where they withdrew enough money to get the flight back in the air.

Some of the 180 passengers told the Mail they had been "held to ransom," even though they had paid almost $800 on average for tickets. The passengers were apparently so angry with Comtel that Austrian police had to be called to the aircraft.

An English passenger, who had been in India for three weeks, told The Telegraph: "Nobody has told us anything. They wanted all the money in cash. Everyone was furious, that is why we had the sit-in. We spent more than six hours in Vienna."

Comtel has not commented on the incident yet, though the airline's website offers passengers "Austrian charm."

Though it is not clear what happened to the company's finances, it is quite clear that those passengers stranded in the Punjab are going to have a hard time getting home.

"They did not get the information as to what's happening with the airline," a stranded passenger's daughter told the BBC.



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