TUI flight makes unexpected Tunisian detour en Route to London Gatwick

Key Points:

  • UI Flight 4651, initially scheduled to travel from Lamezia Terme in Italy to London Gatwick, made an unforeseen stop in Tunisia.

  • The reason for the diversion was to deliver a crucial part to a stranded aircraft at Enfidha airport in Tunisia.

  • This unexpected detour resulted in passengers reaching Gatwick over four hours behind schedule, covering an extra 400 miles.

LONDON — On a seemingly typical Saturday, TUI passengers were in for a surprise. Instead of landing at London Gatwick as anticipated, they found themselves descending towards an airport in North Africa. The journey began at 11am British time when Flight 4651 was scheduled to depart from Lamezia Terme in Italy and reach the Sussex airport three hours later. The plane, a Boeing 737 MAX, was ferrying 189 travelers, many of whom were families with young children, back from their Mediterranean vacations.

Earlier that day, passengers had been alerted about an impending deviation in their flight route. The scheduled departure was pushed back to 1.10pm UK time, and when the aircraft finally soared, it veered towards Tunisia instead of taking its regular northwestern trajectory towards London. This unusual course change was necessitated because the plane had to transport a vital component for another aircraft stationed at Enfidha airport on Tunisia's eastern coast.

This unexpected pitstop extended the journey. After reaching Enfidha, the plane remained grounded for about an hour to unload the equipment and refuel. Consequently, the three-hour leg to Gatwick meant passengers alighted more than four hours later than originally planned, with the aircraft covering an additional 400 miles.

Such deviations, while uncommon, are within the purview of airline companies if they address a particular operational challenge. Elaborating on the scenario, a TUI representative shared, “Flight BY4651 had to momentarily halt at Enfidha-Hammamet Airport. The stop was crucial to provide a component for the TOM529 aircraft, which encountered a technical snag before its scheduled takeoff and required mechanical intervention.” The affected plane was an older model of the Boeing 737, earmarked to fly from Tunisia to Manchester.

Closing their statement, the spokesperson expressed, “We deeply regret the inconvenience this may have caused our passengers. We're grateful for their patience and understanding.”