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Passengers await Swissair news after frustrating delays

A woman naps at Zurich airport while awaiting the resumption of Swissair flights Keystone

The Swiss government's decision to inject SFr450 million into Swissair is allowing some of the airline's flights to resume on Thursday. But the 48-hour grounding of Swissair planes had left thousands of passengers complaining about the way the airline handled the situation.

The crisis at Swissair this week affected almost 40,000 passengers worldwide and left thousands stranded at airports around the globe.

Many customers were confused and angry at their treatment by Swissair and upset by the lack of help to get home. One woman, en route with her family to their home in Perth, Australia expressed her frustration to swissinfo.

“I’ve got three kids here and Swissair really don’t care. We ended up sleeping in a military base last night – went to bed at midnight, woke up at five, starving to death – it’s disgusting,” she said.

Customers criticise lack of planning

Although Zurich Airport reportedly did what it could to help stranded passengers, the mood among many customers, who had to find their own way home, was angry. A woman travelling to New Delhi, India, told swissinfo that she had been forced to pay for another ticket with Japan Airlines.

“I feel really bad as Swissair is such a big company. They should have planned better for the people,” she explained. “We’ve lost our tickets and we’ve had to pay for another ticket – it’s very bad.”

Compassionate Zurich residents

In addition to efforts made by airport authorities to help Swissair customers, a number of concerned locals in Zurich also made their way to the airport to offer assistance.

“The civil protection forces should have been here [on Tuesday] to organise things,” said one local man who was offering help to stranded passengers. He added that not enough had been done and that the situation was “a shame for Switzerland.

“We have an illusion that everything functions very well here in Switzerland,” the Zurich-area resident said, “and sadly it’s an illusion.”

Another traveller, en route to Brazil, told swissinfo that no help had been offered to her even though her daughter was unwell.

“I’m travelling with my one year old baby, she’s sick and there’s no assistance for her – nothing,” she explained. “I need to be in Brazil within a day to see a paediatrician for my daughter – but still there’s no help.”

Swissair has announced it will operate a limited number of international flights on Thursday. Passengers holding Swissair tickets are advised to contact the airline on 0848 800 700 for further information.

by Tom O’Brien

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR