Children in tears after snow scuppers Edinburgh-Lapland trip to see Santa

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Scores of children have been left heartbroken after a flight taking them on a dream trip to Lapland to meet Santa was redirected thanks to bad weather.

Nearly 200 people were on board the plane chartered by travel company Canterbury Travel that left Edinburgh Airport on Sunday morning.

When the aircraft, operated by charter airline Titan Airways, arrived in Enontekio, after an unexpected delay in departing, snow on the runway led to the pilot landing the plane in Norway to refuel.

After hours waiting, the plane returned to Edinburgh without touching down to see Santa.

Some parents are fuming that an alternative date has not been offered by the company.

One irate dad who contacted the Evening News told how he has spent £1,800 for the “trip of a lifetime” with his two children, aged five and eight.

He said: “We were on the plane for a total of eight or nine hours.

“When we got to Lapland the pilot said we couldn’t land because of the conditions there so we diverted to an airport in Northern Norway.”

The dad, who has asked not to be named, added: “We weren’t allowed off the plane in Norway as we told there were no staff at the airport. Then we were told that they hoped to try to get to Lapland again, only by that time the crew were over their safe working time. It ended up with us coming home directly.

“You can imagine what it was like on a plane full of kids expecting to go to the North Pole to see Santa only to be told it wasn’t happening and having to fly straight home. There were lots of tears, some of the crew were even crying.”

He added: “I can’t blame the crew or pilot but I am really not happy with Canterbury Travel. They said they would try to arrange another trip for December 22 and that has just got the kids hopes up again, but when I spoke to them they said that won’t happen as they can’t get hold of a plane and have offered a refund instead.

“My kids are bitterly disappointed and so am I. It’s really not about the money, I just want Canterbury Travel to fulfill their side of the bargain and get something sorted for the sake of the kids.”

Jacqui Banham of Canterbury Travel said: “We are desperately sorry for the passengers caught up in yesterday’s failed day tour to Lapland.

“We chartered an aircraft with Titan Airways and for reasons not yet fully understood, the flight was delayed leaving Edinburgh in the morning and on its approach to Enontekio, snow and ice on the runway led to a divert to Norway to refuel. The aircraft was unable to return to Enontekio for reasons of safety and crew hours and a final decision was taken to return to Edinburgh.

“Canterbury Travel have worked subsequently to secure an aircraft for an alternative date. This however, has not been possible due to the short notice and availability of aircraft at such a busy time, immediately before Christmas.

“We are contacting all customers or their travel agents to arrange a full refund. Again, we offer our most heartfelt apologies to all families affected.”

rohese.taylor@edinburghnews.com