About 100 Armenian tourists were left stranded in an Egyptian Red Sea sort on Thursday due to the cancellation of charter flights to and from Egypt organized by a Yerevan-based travel agency.
They were due to return to Armenia on Wednesday after ending their 10-day holiday in the Hurghada resort.
“We are in the hotel lobby right now, waiting to see if there will be a flight,” one of the holidaymakers, Alla Minasian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service by phone. “I have spoken to our ambassador here for a couple of times. He said they are trying to do something.”
“People have spent the night in the lobby and had problems with food because the hotel doesn’t provide them with food anymore,” said Minasian. “Buying new air tickets to reach Yerevan through other routes costs a lot of money.”
According to the Armenian Embassy in Egypt, the Hurghada-Yerevan flight was cancelled because the A & R Tour agency that sold tour packages to the stranded tourists failed to pay a Greek airline hired by it. An embassy official said the airline is ready to fly them back to Armenia as soon as the Armenian firm honors its financial commitments.
Planned flights between Yerevan and another popular Egyptian resort, Sharm el-Sheikh, arranged by A & R Tour were unexpectedly cancelled this week. Dozens of angry ticket holders besieged the agency’s empty office in the Armenian capital to demand an explanation or financial compensation.
“Our flight was delayed again today,” said Gurgen Harutiunian, a resident of the southeastern Armenian town of Kajaran. “There are 12 of us travelling from Kajaran. You can imagine how much we have to spend on food and accommodation [in Yerevan] because of them.”
Liana Hovannisian, who had also purchased a 10-day tour package from A & R Tour, learned about the cancellation of her flight when she arrived at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport on Thursday morning. She said she called the agency and was told to come to its office.
“We came to the office at noon and were told that [the agency director] will be here in an hour,” said Hovannisian. “It’s now 1 p.m. and she has still not shown up.”
Other employees of the travel firm were also nowhere to be seen, making it impossible for the A & R Tour customers to know whether they will go on holiday after all.