Cathay Dragon

Dragonair downplays presence of contaminated water on its planes

A Department of Health spokesman has confirmed that traces of coliform bacteria were identified on one of the company’s aircraft however no cases of illness have yet been reported

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2016, 9:09pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 10:48am

Dragonair has come clean and ­admitted the water on one of its aircraft was contaminated with a form of bacteria.

In a statement, the Hong Kong-based carrier confirmed unsafe levels of bacteria had been identified in the water tank of one of its jets, which was being used on the Hong Kong to Yangon route.

“From one of its routine water sampling tests, one of the aircraft water tanks was found with an ­unsatisfactory bacteria count,” the statement said.

It did not mention what bacteria was identified, or in what ­concentration.

However, a Department of Health ­spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that Dragonair had reported the presence of ­coliform bacteria in water samples taken from an aircraft on July 26.

The department also collected water samples from the aircraft yesterday for further checks.

While coliform bacteria are mostly harmless, some strains, such as E coli, may cause health issues such as gastrointestinal diseases. The bacteria can be transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or undercooked and contaminated foods.

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The spokesman said the department was satisfied that the concentration of the coliform bacteria was not enough to cause health concerns, although it should not have existed at all.

“We understand the airline had cleaned and disinfected the water tank and so far there have not been reports of any passengers falling sick because of ­drinking tainted water,” the spokesman said.

The department said the ­results of 15 water samples taken from Dragonair aircraft since July, 2015 had all come back as satisfactory.

In its statement, Dragonair said it was standard practice for drinking water to be served from bottles.

“Portable water is not used for drinking directly,” the carrier said.

“The airline took immediate precautionary measures to thoroughly clean, disinfect the water tank of the said aircraft and take follow-up samples for retesting.”

“Thorough cleansing and ­disinfection of water tanks are conducted every three months while water samples are collected ­before and after sterilisation during one of the four disinfections every year,” the company added.

Dragonair is a member of the Cathay Pacific Group. In June last year, tainted drinking water was also identified on 14 Cathay Pacific Airways aircraft.

Investigations into the Cathay Pacific case by the Department of Health found bacteria had ­entered the aircrafts’ supply ­before or during tank refilling.

Cathay Pacific also provides bottled drinking water to its ­passengers