The 170 passengers and six crew who had been “stranded” in Italy since Tuesday after a Cyprus Airways aeroplane experienced a technical problem are expected to return to Cyprus at around 6pm on Thursday.

The flight was due to depart Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Tuesday evening, but as Cyprus Airways’ commercial director Christos Lamnitis explained to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), a technical problem was observed.

Lamnitis explained that the problem “in its nature was not serious, but a part was needed”.

“Due to it being late in the day, the order for the part was placed on Wednesday morning and delivered late in the evening of the same day. After the necessary work was done to fit the part on the aircraft, the technicians informed the company the plane was ready to depart from Rome”, he said.

Of the passengers and crew, he said “from the first minute, [they] were transferred to hotels in Rome, which was difficult because it was not easy, with only two hours’ notice, to find a hotel to accommodate them. The company provided all the facilities, and everything provided by the regulations for the passengers and crew.

“The passengers were informed and around 12pm they were picked up by buses from the hotels where they were staying. At around 1pm … check-in began, and it is expected that at around 6pm the aircraft will arrive at Larnaca airport”, he said.

He described the situation as “difficult for the passengers, including families with children, to stay for two nights outside their country and their home”.

“However, for the company itself, Wednesday was a very difficult day, as due to the fact that we are in the last week of August and many people are returning from their holidays, there were no immediate alternatives to resolve the matter”, he added.

He also said that “alternative solutions had been prepared since Wednesday and were on hold, since in the event that the aircraft, for whatever reason, was not ready for departure, we would implement them and bring the passengers back to Cyprus”.

Asked why another aeroplane could not have been sent to Rome to pick the passengers up, he said “there was no possibility that another aircraft belonging to Cyprus Airways could go to Rome … for another airline to be sent to Rome, it would have meant that other passengers would have been affected and inconvenienced”.