ISTANBUL – A handful of Dutch at the airport in Turkey’s main city Istanbul are getting ready for their trip home. By bus, for around thirty hours to Düsseldorf in Germany, and from there they will take a train. They didn’t get any help from KLM or their travel agent. Diana van Raampt, a woman in her fifties from Amsterdam: “They direct you to each other’s website, so that’s not very useful.”
Istanbul airport has been partly transformed into a long distance bus stationl. Earlier on Monday buses left for Cologne, Munich, Lyon and Paris. There are no buses to Amsterdam. The bus companies only put a destination on their list if they are sure the bus will be fully booked, and the consulates of France and Germany have got actively involved in that.
There is a list of names of French people who called their consulate for help, and a similar list of German names. Daniël Stork, spokesperson for the Dutch consulate in Istanbul: “If a considerable number of Dutch citizens contact us and want to go home by bus, we will arrange for these people to get in touch with each other. We do have a list, but so far there are only six or seven names on it. There’s no rush for it.”
This list is supposed to be also available at the KLM desk, but the desk is closed, so people have to arrange things themselves, like the Van Raampt family and their friends Ischia van Huffelen and Johan den Blanken from Alphen. ”KLM re-booked us on a flight on the 27th, but that’s a week from now! And then what might happen? Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam open, and then maybe Istanbul airport closes, you can’t be sure can you? We’d better make a decision and catch a bus instead of waiting.’
Rob and Youri Lürsen, father and son from IJmuiden, also arranged everything themselves. They had been hiking in Nepal, and were supposed to fly back to Amsterdam from Delhi, but the earliest flight they could get on was on the 22nd. So they booked a flight with another carrier as far as Istanbul, and now they are taking a bus. All together it has cost them a lot of money, and they don’t expect anything back from their insurance company. ”Act of God, that’s just not covered. Well, what can we do, we just want to go home.’
(I’ve written a few more short articles for ANP news agency about Dutch travellers stuck in Istanbul due to the ash cloud, but won’t put all of them online)