Dozens left behind: Eurowings pilot takes off without half of passengers, says he couldn’t wait

© Wolfgang Rattay
Dozens of Eurowings passengers were shocked to discover that the pilot of their flight from Düsseldorf to Dresden decided to fly without them. The airline later explained that he wanted to take off before the ban on night flights started.

The incident took place in Düsseldorf Airport on Friday night, a spokesperson for Eurowings airline told Germany’s DPA news agency. 

The passengers were organized in two buses to get to the plane. Those who were in the first bus managed to board the plane, but the other half didn’t.

It appears that the pilot of the plane wanted to fly before the ban on night flights started. So he took off without waiting for the remaining passengers. Apparently those in the second bus only managed to see their plane taking off in the direction of Dresden.

“About 70 passengers boarded the aircraft. The other passengers could not board on time. Because there was no time left, the plane had to take off without them,” the spokeswoman said.

Earlier, German media reported that 70 to 90 people couldn’t make the flight in time.

Angry passengers who were left behind called the police, Eurowings said. Some of them were transported by bus to Dresden and some stayed in hotels and flew the next day.

Police officials told German media that the incident resulted from the fact that the flight was delayed. Initially it was scheduled for 19:05, but the new departure time was at 21:35. The delay was reportedly due to a strike by Italian airport workers and poor weather conditions.

Night flying restrictions exist at German airports. According to legislation, the European Union restricts flights between 23.00 and 07.00.