A number of passengers travelling with TUI Ireland were forced to sleep on camp beds in a German airport last night while travelling from Corfu to Dublin.

The flight, TOM1517, departed from the Greek island shortly after 6.30pm local time, four hours later than scheduled, due to operational reasons.

Passengers said they were informed after boarding the plane that it would have to stop off in Munich in Germany to refuel, but it was diverted to Nuremberg Airport due to a thunderstorm.

A number of people have told RTÉ News that they were left on board the aircraft on the ground in Nuremberg for around three hours.

One passenger, Niamh Gormally from Bray in Co Wicklow, said they were "provided with one glass of water, but there was no food to buy on board".

She said there were babies, young children and elderly people on the plane, which was warm and uncomfortable.

Another TUI customer, Lauryn Ní Riain, said they were told the refuelling would "only add an extra 30 minutes to their journey".

However, the passengers were subsequently informed that they would not be continuing on their journey to Dublin last night and they would be offered hotel accommodation for the night, but that did not materialise.

Ms Gormally said after they disembarked in Nuremberg, there was no TUI representative in the airport to assist with queries or to inform passengers what was happening.

She said management at the airport later provided camp beds, blankets, water and snacks late last night, with passengers sleeping in the airport.

Ms Ní Riain, who estimated there were 180 people on board the flight, said she "felt totally abandoned with no information" and she said some people were crying.

At around 6.30am today, the passengers were taken by bus for over three hours to Stuttgart, where they were checked into an airport hotel, awaiting details on when they will continue their flight back to Dublin.

Ms Gormally, who is travelling as part of a group of 12 people, described the situation as "an absolute nightmare" and "stressful".

She said there has been "nobody on the ground to say what is going on" and she added that "the annoying thing is just not knowing" what is happening.

TUI Ireland has apologised to customers for the "delay and disruption" caused to their flight from Corfu to Dublin.

The tour operator said "unfortunately, due to operational issues the flight departed late from Corfu and required a short fuel-stop in Munich" but it said "poor weather in the area then required the aircraft to divert elsewhere".

In response to criticism from passengers over the level of communication from the company, TUI said its teams have been "working tirelessly to support affected customers, through direct communications and providing overnight accommodation and transfers where needed, as well as meals and refreshments".

TUI said the customers are due to fly to Ireland later today.

Some holidaymakers missed bus transfer to Stuttgart

Some of the holidaymakers with young children booked into hotels near Nuremberg Airport. However, they say they were not notified that a bus was transferring passengers to Stuttgart Airport.

Lyndsay Martin and her partner, who were travelling with their two young children, managed to source a nearby room for the night.

Accommodation was difficult to find because a music festival is taking place in Nuremberg this weekend.

She said they "never had communication" from TUI Holidays to say there was a bus going to Stuttgart and they missed the transfer.

Ms Martin said they had to hire a car to make the journey at a cost of €300. She said her family's holiday "has ended on a really sour note".

James Deegan, who had a similar experience, described the situation as "a shambles".

He said "there was no assistance whatsoever and no TUI representatives" when they departed the aircraft.

"It was a very stressful atmosphere, especially for people like my partner being pregnant, and there was a lot of young children."

Mr Deegan said he had to take action into his own hands and book a hotel room because his partner is six months pregnant and his young son "hadn't eaten, hadn't had a nap and was exhausted".

He said he "wasn't aware" that a bus was being used to take passengers to Stuttgart Airport.

As a result, Mr Deegan also had to hire a car, the cost of which he hopes will be reimbursed by TUI.