Manchester Airport sends empty planes to Tunisia

Manchester Airport
Image caption All passenger-carrying flights out of Manchester to Tunisia have been cancelled

Three empty planes have been sent out to Tunisia from Manchester Airport to bring back British travellers who are trying to get out of the country.

The airport said the Thomson planes could carry up to 800 people wanting to escape the escalating street violence.

A delayed Thomas Cook flight is also expected to land at Manchester later.

President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who had been in power for 23 years, was ousted from office on Friday after a rally against him in Tunis.

In the past four weeks, protests have swept the country over unemployment, food price rises and corruption.

All passenger-carrying flights out of Manchester have been cancelled until Wednesday, said the airport.

The Foreign Office, which has advised against travelling to Tunisia, estimates 3,000 British travellers still need to get a flight from the country.

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: "Not all of the passengers who come back to Manchester Airport today will be from the North West, some are likely to be from London, Scotland and the Midlands.

"Some people who were due to come back to Manchester will probably find themselves flying into other UK airports, as the priority is just to get people home.

"Most of the civil unrest is around the capital where most tourists don't really go.

"It is safe in the resorts and although the airports are very busy and under pressure, they are safe and people will get home."

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