A HOLIDAY problem for 700 tourists, whose flights were delayed for more than 24 hours after a series of technical problems on a Florida-bound jet, finally ended last night.

They were offered alternative flights after many refused to reboard the Excalibur DC10 plane that was at the centre of a safety scare two weeks ago.

The first 350 passengers had been due to fly from Manchester airport to Orlando, Florida, at 11am on Sunday.

The plane developed a catalogue of problems, culminating in the pilot slamming on the brakes as the jet reached top speed before take-off. The passengers refused to reboard.

As the problems developed in Manchester, another 350 British tourists checked in at Orlando for their flight home on the same jet.

The plane, which is at least 15 years old, hit the headlines two weeks ago when 91 passengers refused to board it after smoke filled the cabin.

The pilot on both occasions was Captain Hugh Jones, who was yesterday spared trying to persuade his passengers to reboard the troubled plane after Excalibur chartered a Laker Airways jet in its place.

The passengers in Manchester and Orlando spent the night in hotels before the chartered jet took off yesterday afternoon - 25 hours late.

Meanwhile, Excalibur officials said the cockpit warning light that had forced the pilot to abort take-off at the last minute was a false alarm.

Excalibur spokesman Malcolm Ginsberg said: ``Every day aircraft are delayed by minor technical problems and we seek to rectify them as quickly and expediently as possible. Every airline expects things like this and we build it into our budget.''