Businessman’s £16,000 trip home during volcanic ash crisis

April 23, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A British businessmen stranded in China during the volcanic ash crisis forked out a staggering £16,000 to get home and travelled across seven countries.

Vivian Black, 47, was on a business trip in the far east when his chartered return flight was grounded.

But entrepreneurial Vivian was not going to let a world flight ban stop him getting home so he embarked on an 8,000 mile, seven day journey traversing seven countries through several time zones.

Vivian, who runs a solar and water powered products business called Tango, spent a total of £16,190, including £2,400 on car hire alone.

He chartered a private aircraft to pick him up from Le Touquet, France, where he was taken to Gloucestershire Airport on Thursday morning – seven days after setting off.

Vivian, of Hucclecote, Glos., where he lives with wife Karen, 47, and kids Chantelle, 21, and Stephanie, 17, said the ”mammoth journey” was necessary to get back to his business.

He said: ”It was a really exhausting trip home but it had to be done. I was told it would be nine days before they could reschedule my flight.

”It sounds great, but when you’re cancelling business meetings and losing money, the proposition of spending more time away suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing

”There were a few hairy moments driving through Europe. We were stopped twice for speeding and given a 90 Euro fine.

”I had to pay it all out my own pocket and it cost so much because I always had to have a back up plan including alternative flights and ferry crossings.

”It was a mammoth trip and one I won’t be keen to recreate in a hurry.”

Vivian appeared on Dragon’s Den in 2007 in a bid to get cash to expand his water and solar powered fuel cell company, Tango Group Ltd.

The Dragons failed to invest, but Vivian’s company went from strength to strength.

He flew out to China’s Guangdong province for a business trip on April 9 and had a return flight scheduled for April 16.

But on the day he was due to return home, British Airways phoned to say his flight had been grounded due to the volcanic ash crisis and the earliest available was April 25.

Vivian embarked on an incredible return trip that took him through seven countries on three continents.

He asked a colleague to drive him the 400 mile trip from Guangdong to Honk Kong on Friday, before booking a flight to Doha, Qatar for £1,000

On Sunday, he boarded a £1,000 flight to Tunisia, where he forked out £500 on a flight to Rome.

Vivian then hired a car for a staggering £1,200 a day and drove across Italy, through the Alps to Switzerland and on to France.

A private pilot then flew to meet him and took him home to Gloucestershire Airport, where and exhausted Vivian was met on the runway by wife Karen.

He added: ”We were travelling through several different time zones, different countries with different languages which posed different problems.

”There was no support from my insurance company and was left literally completely on my own to get home.

”British Airways have so far refused to refund any costs because they say it was my fault for making my own way home and not waiting another nine days.

”I simply had no option. I had to get back to my business.

”We had already missed a major meeting with John Lewis and there’s only so much sympathy you can get for the whole volcanic ash incident.”

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