Passengers were left stranded as Germanwings crews refused to board similar aircraft to the Airbus A320 which crashed in the French Alps killing all 150 people on board.
Flights from Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester and in Germany were affected in the immediate aftermath of yesterday’s tragedy.
A mother and baby from Manchester were believed to have been on board flight 4U 9525 from Barcelona to Dusseldorf which was carrying 144 passengers and six crew.
Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said t was “sadly likely” that there were British nationals on board.
Pilots were said to be refusing to fly for “personal reasons” as concerns were raised about the A320 involved in the disaster – an aircraft built in 1991.
Several Germanwings flights were cancelled as it emerged that the aircraft involved in the crash had been grounded for an hour at Barcelona airport for repairs just a day before the accident.
Pilots and cabin crew expressed their concerns the crash may have been linked to a repair to the nose-wheel landing doors on Monday, the Telegraph reported.
Germanwings parent company Lufthansa denied that there was any link between the repair and the cancelled flights.
A statement last night from the low-cost carrier confirmed that some flights had to be cancelled.
“Following the tragic accident on Tuesday, Germanwings reports occasional flight disruptions within its route network,” the airline said.
“This is due to crew members, who decided not to operate aircraft following the reports on the accident of a Germanwings aircraft with 144 passengers and six crew members onboard.”
Chief executive Thomas Winkelmann said: “We understand their decision.”
The two pilots on the doomed flight had reported no sign of any problems before the aircraft disappeared from radar screens from its cruising altitude of 38,000ft before crashing into a remote mountainside at 6,500ft.
The aircraft went into a steady and rapid descent for eight minutes from halfway through its 90-minute flight from Barcelona.
Sixteen German schoolchildren returning home from a Spanish exchange trip and two babies were among the dead, who included 67 Germans, 45 Spaniards, a Belgian, and Turkish passengers.
One flight today has been cancelled, with the remainder operating according to schedule, according to Germanwings.
“Due to emotional distress, some crew members are also unfit for service today,” the airline said..
“Germanwings understands these circumstances, as crew members have lost beloved colleagues in the incident.”
Germanwings is operating 11 aircraft on about 40 flights, predominantly drafted in today from other airlines like Lufthansa, Air Berlin and TuiFly.
The first of the A320’s black box flight recorders had been recovered by last night, holding information about why it suddenly dropped out of the sky.
Airbus confirmed that the aircraft involved in the accident was orginally delivered to Lufthansa in 1991 and it had flown approximately 58,300 hours in some 46,700 flights.
To date, the entire fleet has accumulated some 150 million flight hours in over 85 million flights.
“Airbus will make further factual information available as soon as the details have been confirmed and cleared by the authorities for release,” the manufacturer said.
“The concerns and sympathy of the Airbus employees go to the families, friends and loved ones affected by the accident of Flight 4U9525.”
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