British Airways (BA) has rejected claims by passengers that it had put their lives at risk after it made two emergency landings owing to the same fault.
The Boeing 747 in question had left Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for London on Wednesday but was forced to turn back for an emergency landing due to a fault with the wing flaps. The fault reoccurred when the same plane took off on Thursday, forcing it to turn back again.
Passenger Sean Casey reportedly told the BBC that paramedics were brought on board to treat some of the passengers after the second emergency landing. It is ‘scandalous’ that BA ground staff at King Khalid International Airport had been ‘unable to assist or advise on how they were going to get people to their final destination, many passengers have lost thousands of pounds as their onward flights, holiday accommodation and car rental has been paid and lost,’ he said, adding: ‘I feel BA put 300 lives at risk by putting us on the same plane 24 hours after trying to fix a fault.’
Another passenger, Ahmed Hamad, also said ‘over 300 lives were put at risk by BA’, adding that after the plane was fixed and passed as safe by engineers on Thursday, the same problem occurred again just 20 minutes into the flight and it was turned back again. After the second emergency landing ‘there were lots of upset passengers and some trouble on board, and a few passengers refused to leave the aircraft,’ he said.
However, BA has fully rejected the allegations, saying that it would never operate a flight unless it believed it was safe and that the aircraft was returned to Riyadh ‘as a precaution.’
A BA spokesman said: ‘We apologise to customers for their experience. We sent a replacement aircraft to Riyadh and customers have now landed in the UK. Our customer service teams are contacting customers directly to offer compensation, expenses and complimentary tickets as a gesture of goodwill.’
‘The safety of our customers and crew is always our first concern, and due to a technical problem, the decision was taken to return the aircraft to Riyadh. Our crew and customer service teams did everything they could to care for customers, and we provided overnight hotel accommodation,’ he added.