Uk based airlines
Endangered turtles stranded passengers heading back to the UK from the Greek island of Zante File picture, iStock

A night-time curfew banning flights from the Greek Island of Zante marooned holidaymakers booked on a replacement flight back to the UK.

Technical problems with an easyJet flight to Gatwick meant a plane was stuck on the runway at Zakynthos airport on Sunday (30 July).

However the airline was unable to put on a special flight to rescue passengers due a curfew because the airport is close to beaches where the endangered loggerhead turtle lays its eggs at night.

It meant that around 40 people from the original 180 booked onto Sunday's flight did not get back to Gatwick from the Ionian island until Tuesday afternoon (1 August).

Passengers vented their disapproval, with George Trefgarne describing the "total chaos" as ground staff were "overwhelmed".

"We were among a handful who managed to get out on a Thomson flight, but only after spending nine hours at the airport with no information. There were lots of families with children but no easyJet reps and no offers of anything to eat or drink. I feel so sorry for those left behind," he said, according to the Telegraph.

An easyJet spokesman said half the passengers flew back on Monday with other carriers and that people were given hotel accommodation and expenses in line with EU regulations.

"Unfortunately easyJet was unable to operate the flight EZY8746 from Zante to London Gatwick on Sunday due to a technical fault with the aircraft.

"Engineers were immediately dispatched to Zante and believed that the technical issue was rectified however it then reoccurred before boarding which meant the flight could not operate.

"We do all possible to try and minimise delays and as such planned to send a replacement aircraft. Unfortunately, due to the night curfew rule at the airport, we were unable to get the aircraft into the airport on Monday."

The incident comes on the heels of claims a British easyJet passenger was punched by an airport worker in Nice, in the South of France, on Saturday, after a 14-hour delay with an easyJet flight to Luton left passengers furious.

The airline is also investigating how an unaccompanied child was removed from a flight and left alone at an airport. The 15-year-old was flying aboard flight EZY8333 from London Gatwick to Toulouse on Thursday 20 July,