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Police were called to help passengers disembark an ‘abandoned’ plane after being sat on the runway for three hours due to staff shortages.

Families had already been delayed before boarding the Tui flight from Manchester to Tenerife on Monday evening.

The plane was due to depart at 5.30pm but passengers did not get to their seats until 7pm.

However, worse was yet to come with holidaymakers then forced to wait on the flight for three more hours before it was eventually cancelled.

Staff shortages meant there were delays with ground crew loading the luggage, resulting in the flight being axed due to crew hour regulations.

Footage shows the pilot telling stranded customers ‘Swissport have abandoned us’.

Passengers were stuck on board for three hours due to a staff shortage (Picture: MEN MEDIA)

Adam Wyczalkowski, 22, who was set to travel to the sunny island with four friends, said travellers were stuck on the tarmac until 10pm, when police arrived to help disembark the aircraft.

Speaking from the plane, he told the Manchester Evening News: ‘The flight was meant to leave at 5.50pm, but we were late getting on board in the first place which was around 7pm. We were told the bags would need to be loaded by Swissport, but then we heard they had only half loaded them onto the aircraft.

‘We were then told all the staff had then disappeared, and the captain told us all that due to crew hour regulations, the flight might get cancelled in the end.’

Adam said passengers were then told there was no staff to let them off the plane, which was full of kids and families ‘excited go away for half-term’.

‘People are just getting so frustrated and angry,’ he said.

The pilot had to call police to help people off the plane (Picture: Men Media)

‘It is so hot and there is no air con on and we were only offered a complimentary drink. There was not a single member of staff in sight, so the captain informed us they will be calling the police in order to let us disembark.’

TUI said that the flight had been delayed due to ‘operational issues’ and all customers were given a hotel overnight stay and new departure time.

A TUI spokesperson said: ‘We’d like to apologise to customers travelling on flight TOM2106 from Manchester to Tenerife on Monday 30 May which was unfortunately delayed due to operational issues. We were in contact with affected customers, offered overnight accommodation and meals where needed, and advised them of their new departure time as soon as we could. This flight is now due to depart this evening.

‘The May half-term holidays are always an incredibly busy period with many customers looking to get away, and this year is no different. We’d like to apologise again for the inconvenience caused and we thank customers for their understanding and patience during this time.’

A spokesperson for Swissport, which provides ground services such as baggage handling, said the rise in flight volumes following the pandemic was ‘exacerbating resource challenges’ across the industry.

‘We are very sorry for our part in any delays and disruption passengers have experienced,’ the statement said.

There has been chaos at airports this half term due to flight cancellations (Picture: Kate @kjfree2run)

‘We’re doing everything we can to address our role in meeting our resource challenges, welcoming over 2,000 new colleagues since the start of the year, and we continue to work with our partners to identify contingency measures and improve baggage and aircraft turnaround times.’

It comes after footage emerged of police telling passengers waiting to board a Tui flight from Manchester to Greece that their holiday was cancelled and they had to go home.

A mum also told how her little girl was left ‘exhausted and in tears’ after TUI cancelled their flights home from Cyprus twice.

Half term has been plunged into chaos by mass flight delays and cancellations, with passengers pictured at Gatwick yesterday taking naps on conveyor belts.

Staff shortages have sparked nightmare queues in UK airports, which have been described as ‘hell’ and ‘total bedlam’.

Unite, which represents tens of thousands of aviation workers, claims delays at most major airports ‘will be repeated during the half-term holidays and will be even worse during the summer holidays’.

Passengers queue for flights at Heathrow Airport (Picture: PA)

The union hit out at travel companies for ‘slashing jobs to boost corporate profits’ during the pandemic, when they were supported with £8bn of government money to get by.

Rory Boland, the travel editor of consumer group Which? said that the government must intervene to make sure airlines stop selling flights ‘they can’t actually provide’.

But yesterday Transport Minister Grant Shapps insisted ministers had done their bit.

He said he has demanded a meeting with aviation bosses to find out ‘what’s gone wrong’ as travel chaos deepens across the country.

He said: ‘Government has done its part.

‘It is now on airports, airlines and ground handlers to make sure everyone’s well-deserved holidays can go ahead free from the major disruption we’ve seen in recent days.’

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