Iron Maiden's lead singer Bruce Dickinson has flown a number of stranded XL customers home to the UK.

Dickinson, 50, qualified as a commercial pilot in the 1990s and worked for charter company Astraeus while fronting the heavy metal band.

A spokesman for the company said the singer had been employed as full-time member of staff for the last seven years and regularly piloted planes to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The Iron Maiden singer flew to Sharm el-Sheikh, in Egypt, and the Greek island of Kos to help bring the stranded XL holidaymakers home.

"The roster meant that Bruce Dickinson was on holiday when this was going on," the spokesman said.

"After XL went bump it just so happened that Bruce, being on holiday, was available and other cabin crew were brought in as well for the flight."

XL, Britain's third largest tour operator, collapsed on Friday leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded abroad.

15/09/2008 10:28:15