TRAVELLERS on the Emirates flight EK714 from Lusaka to Dubai on Friday night were gripped by fear when, 40 minutes after take-off, the plane had to return to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) after it developed a technical fault.
Sources on the plane said the flight, which took off around 21:40 hours from KKIA, was turned back mid-air after the passengers were informed by the pilot that it had developed a technical fault and, therefore, needed to land to guarantee safety of all passengers aboard.
The passengers, who landed at KKIA around 23:00 hours on Friday night, were accommodated at Pamodzi Hotel. A check by the Sunday Mail on Saturday morning found them on airport transfers from the hotel.
The passengers, in an interview, said they were being transferred to the airport in readiness for a scheduled flight on the same plane.
“We have been assured that the plane has been effectively worked on by the technicians and our transfers to various destinations from Dubai have been arranged. All passengers have been advised to leave the hotel by 11:50 hours,” said one passenger who sought anonymity.
And in a statement released by Emirates yesterday, the airline said all the passengers disembarked normally and that the airline provided overnight hotel accommodation for the affected passengers.
“The flight is now scheduled to depart 15:30 local time on 14 November [yesterday]. Passengers connecting from Dubai will be rebooked on the next available flights,” the statement read in part.
The airline apologised for the inconvenience caused and has reiterated its commitment to the safety of its customers and staff. No specific problem has been stated regarding what caused the technical fault.
This is the second time that Emirates has suffered a similar incident. In 2012, Airbus A330-200, registration A6-EAP flight EK-714 from Lusaka to Dubai was enroute about 30 minutes into the flight when the left hand engine emitted a loud bang prompting the crew to shut it and return to Lusaka for a safe landing.