Passengers said they were asked for the cash when a flight with Austrian airline Comtel from Amritsar in India made a stop in Vienna to refuel.

The 180 passengers were apparently told they would have to get off as the airline did not have enough money to continue. After the passengers refused, a six-hour stand-off ensued between the airline, airport authorities and travellers, during which the Austrian police were called in.
Those onboard claim they were escorted to cash machines so they could have a whip round and withdraw enough to get home. After stumping up around £24,000 in Euros to pay landing fees, taxes and fuel, the furious passengers landed in Birmingham on Tuesday night and said they had been “held to ransom” by the airline.

A Birmingham Airport statement said that Comtel was registered in Austria and was therefore beyond the jurisdiction of the Civil Aviation Authority.

The statement added: “We are urgently investigating the matter to get some clarity.”

A further 600 passengers booked onto three other Comtel flights are currently stranded in India.

The BBC reported that Comtel Air’s director of passenger services, Bhunpinder Kandra, said: “I have heard what happened, it shouldn’t have happened, and I will investigate why it happened.

“The people who had to pay the money will receive a refund.”