There's a weird story making the rounds in the news in France these last few days: Flight V72578 on April 15th was delayed, and then diverted, supposedly because of the destination airport's curfew. Passengers ended up arriving in LUX with a delay of 24 hours. But the facts don't quite seem to match.
The flight was scheduled as NCE-LUX (Nice-Luxembourg), originally departing at 19:35 and arriving at 21:05 (all times local).
After a number of issues, the flight departed over 2 hours late, at 21:40 local time. It flew towards LUX, but when it nearly got there, turned around, and instead diverted to LYS (!):
The official story is that it was getting too late and they couldn't land in LUX because of the airport's curfew.
- LUX's curfew starts at 23:00 local time.
- There are routinely flights landing very close to that time: LH398 has a scheduled arrival at 22:45 and has recently landed as late as 22:57.
- V72578 started turning around at about 22:27, about 100 km from LUX. It would probably have taken 15-20 minutes to land, so well before curfew.
- It diverted to LYS (Lyon), 340 km away, at 23:09, which again shows it could have reached LUX in time.
- At the time it turned around, it was barely further away from LUX than LH398, which landed at 22:42.
Of course one also wonders why they decided to fly to LYS when they could have diverted to Strasbourg (which is also a Volotea base) which is only 100 km away, much closer to Luxembourg, still open (and actually had a Volotea flight from Nice landing there a bit later that evening) but that's another story.
Is it possible to find out the real reason for the diversion? It seems quite unlikely this was due to the curfew in LUX and it is extremely unlikely it was due to any emergency as it chose to divert to a much further airport. LiveATC does not seem to have coverage for the area, is there any other way to get exchanges with air traffic control which could explain the diversion? Or is there any other source which could be used to determine what really happened?
I'm also surprised this would have happened this late in the flight. It should have been known quite precisely when they would land in LUX shortly after take-off, so shouldn't crew and/or LUX and/or ATC have been aware of any potential issue at that time rather than when beginning descent?
There have been quite a few stories about the social conflict between Volotea and their staff over the last few days. I don't want to think passengers could have been the losing party in some kind of hardball negotiation between crew and management!