Travellers on Austrian airline Comtel Air say they had to pay £20,000 after the airline refused to fly them back to their home until they paid up.

Passengers claimed that they were forced into a whip-round to fund the remainder of their trip back to Britain. They said they were "held to ransom" for six hours on the tarmac in Vienna after a flight with Austrian airline Comtel Air from Amritsar, India, stopped to refuel.

More than 180 passengers, who should have arrived back in Birmingham on Saturday, finally got there Tuesday night, reported the Birmingham Mail.

Dalvinder Batra, from Oldbury, told the newspaper: "It is absolutely disgusting. There are still people stuck out there."

"We were escorted to the cash point to take money out. They said there was a deficit of nearly 24,000 euros and they gave us receipts," Ranbir Dehal, from Wolverhampton added.

Reena Rindi, who was aboard with her 2-year-old daughter, told Channel 4 News: "We wanted to go home. We'd been stranded for about three to four days. Who was going to take us home?"

She said passengers agreed to pay so they could fly to Birmingham and added: "We all got together, took our money out of purses - £130."

"The children under two went free. If we didn't have the money they were making us go one by one outside in Vienna to get the cash out," Rindi added.

Commenting on the incident, Comtel Air's director of passenger services Bhunpinder Kandra told the Press Association: "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."

Meanwhile, a Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson said, "It is an Austrian airline, so we have no direct jurisdiction over it. We are looking to see if people who bought their holiday in Britain bought it through an ATOL-licensed tour operator. If they did, that tour operator needs to step in to arrange new flights for them. If that makes the tour operator go bust, then we would step in to bring ATOL-protected people home."

In addition, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware that a number of British nationals have been affected by difficulties with Comtel airlines flights from Amritsar to Birmingham via Vienna. We have been, and remain, in touch with the relevant authorities including the airline for clarification on how British nationals due to fly in the coming days will be affected.

"Our current advice to anyone affected is to contact their tour operator, travel agent or the airline for further information and about possible alternative arrangements. We would also advise that they monitor our travel advice for India for any updates."

"Comtel Air has been contracted by a number of UK travel companies to facilitate flights to Amritsar, via Vienna. Comtel Air has a contractual arrangement with an approved airline to operate this service. We are very concerned about this situation and understand the distress that this is causing those passengers directly involved and their loved ones," said a spokeswoman for the Birmingham Airport.

"Comtel Air is an Austrian-registered airline and is therefore not within the CAA's jurisdiction. Anyone due to travel with the airline is advised to contact the travel company they have booked the flights with for advice. Those passengers overseas need to ascertain whether their travel arrangements are protected by the ATOL scheme," she added.