New delays for airlines frustrate passengers

The fears of nervous airlines and anxious passengers, in the wake of the Helios Airways crash that killed 121 people, were heightened yesterday after another round of delays and cancellations of flights in Greece and Cyprus. Irish holidaymakers flying with the Cypriot airline left for Dublin yesterday after a 27-hour delay, and the company admitted it could not rule out similar delays in the near future. One of its Boeing planes has been flown to Sweden for checks and another is due to follow. Meanwhile, a Virgin Express flight due to leave Athens for Brussels yesterday morning was delayed for over three hours while engineers inspected a technical problem. The Virgin flight 403 had entered the runway to prepare for takeoff shortly after 11.30 a.m. before the pilot noticed the problem and asked for permission to abort the takeoff. In Crete, 136 French passengers who were due to fly with Greek charter airline Alexandair refused to board the McDonnell Douglas aircraft because of safety fears, Agence France-Presse reported. They claimed the plane had made an emergency landing in Milan last week, had twice been delayed for technical reasons and was flown by a 21-year-old pilot. The passengers left Iraklion on another flight.