A group of Israelis have been stuck in Zanzibar since Wednesday after the Israeli airline discovered a series of problems with the plane.

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A group of 170 Israelis have been unable to fly back from Zanzibar to Israel since Wednesday because of flight delays.

“They came to the airport and got through security, and then the nightmare began,” Meirav Alon, whose sister Efrat is among those stuck on the East African island, told Channel 2 News. “Representatives of Arkia (the Israeli airline) started delaying the flight over and over again because of a fuel leak problem.”

Israelis waiting at the airport

Israelis waiting at the airport Photo credit: Channel 2 News

According to Alon, the Israelis were furious with Arkia for not sending out another plane upon spotting the problem. “They insisted on waiting for a spare part to arrive, which took about seven hours.”

But even then, Alon added, the problem was far from solved. “They came to the airport again, got through security again, got on the plane and put on their seat belts, and then the pilot announced there was a problem with the engine,” she said.

The Israelis were then told they would have to stay in Zanzibar over Shabbat. “It feels like an ongoing nightmare and complete incompetence on behalf of the company, that could have flown three working planes from Israel by that time, but preferred to abuse their customers,” Alon concluded.

Arkia said in a statement, “A problem was spotted on the plane prior to the original departure time, which required changing one of its parts. Engineers were flown out from Israel and managed to fix the problem. Just before takeoff, a second problem was discovered which required sending a technical part from Israel. Arkia has decided to fly out another plane this afternoon which will bring the passengers back around midnight. The passengers who observe the Shabbat will be brought back immediately after Shabbat goes out. We apologize for the inconvenience but we do not compromise on safety.”