Passengers' fury as BA jet makes two emergency landings

British Airways Boeing 747s
Image caption British Airways said a replacement aircraft had taken the passengers back to the UK

Passengers have accused British Airways of putting lives at risk after a plane had to make two emergency landings with the same fault.

The Boeing 747 flight to London first had to turn back to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday owing to a problem with the wing flaps.

When the same plane took off on Thursday after repairs, the problem reoccurred and it turned back again.

BA said it would never operate a flight unless it believed it was safe.

One of the passengers, Sean Casey, told the BBC that paramedics were brought on board to treat some of the passengers after the second emergency landing.

He said it was "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".

Mr Casey said: "Credit to the BA pilot - he did very well - and the crew on the plane."

But he added: "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 second emergency landing "there were lots of upset passengers and some trouble on board, and a few passengers refused to leave the aircraft".

Problems began with a four-hour delay before the plane bound for Heathrow took off on Wednesday from the Saudi capital, Mr Hamad said.

Then 30 minutes into the flight the captain announced they would have to turn back because of a problem with the wing flaps.

The pilot dumped fuel to make the plane lighter before turning back to Riyadh, Mr Hamad said, but "the speed of the landing was very fast".

On Thursday, after the plane had been fixed and passed as safe by engineers, the same problem occurred again just 20 minutes into the flight, Mr Hamad said, and turned back again.

Abdulaziz al Dabaan, a businessman from Riyadh, told the BBC the landing of the first aborted flight had been "terrifying".

"It kind of hit the runway," he said. "A lot of people were worried because of the announcement and because they could see the plane was ejecting fuel. It landed heavily on the back carriage and then smacked down on the front carriage."

'Gesture of goodwill'

After the second flight had turned back, he added: "I was really scared and I lost my faith in BA so I decided to cancel my flight and went home.

"I was travelling to London for the Eid holidays. I had six days off including two days travelling.

"I was going to visit my sister and her niece who I haven't seen since last summer. My heart aches a bit about that. I tried to get another flight but they were all booked."

A BA spokesman said a replacement aircraft had now taken the passengers safely to London.

The company said in a statement: "Our customer service teams are contacting customers directly to offer compensation, expenses and complementary 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 are doing everything they can to care for customers, and we provided overnight hotel accommodation."

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