Hong Kong aviation

Passengers left stranded and angry in Hong Kong after Cathay Pacific flight hits brake problem

Travellers left on plane for five hours without food before being moved back to passenger terminal and given HK$75 meal voucher

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 11:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 May, 2017, 12:23am

Passengers on a Cathay Pacific flight bound for Singapore were left stranded and hungry on the plane for five hours on Wednesday due to a mechanical fault on a day of chaos at Hong Kong International Airport.

Travellers bore the brunt of delays after the city was soaked by downpours that triggered the first black rainstorm warning of the year and sent a plane skidding off the runway.

Flight CX735, which was originally scheduled to depart at 2.30pm for Singapore, was one of the flights affected by delays due to the bad weather. Passengers boarded at about 3.30pm, but were informed shortly before the plane was due to take off that the aircraft’s parking brakes could not be released.

The plane had to be towed away from the runway to allow other flights to depart. However, passengers and crew remained on the aircraft for several hours before the tow truck arrived at about 6.45pm, according to passenger Jessica Lim.

Lim said that passengers were not given food during the ordeal.

“The flight attendant did not sound friendly on the microphone when she asked passengers who were crowding around the galley asking for food and snacks to go back to their seats,” Lim said.

Cathay Pacific plane evacuated at Hong Kong International Airport due to fuel spillage

After the plane was towed to a remote parking site, passengers waited another two hours before buses arrived to transport them back to the airport, she added. Passengers were given food vouchers for HK$75 as compensation.

“I was losing patience ... The weather is an issue today but why wasn’t the aircraft maintained properly?” Lim asked.

According to data by Flightradar24, the aircraft was a two-year-old Airbus A330-343.

Cathay Pacific apologised for the incident, saying it was caused by a technical issue with the aircraft’s brake system. It said the flight was then further delayed due to air traffic constraints brought about by the closure of the northern runway after the plane skidded off the runway and flight crew hour limitations.

Some 40 passengers were put on a later Cathay Pacific flight to Singapore, while the rest were scheduled to fly shortly after midnight, the airline said.

As of 9pm on Wednesday, 311 arriving flights were delayed and seven were cancelled due to the inclement weather and the incident involving the China Eastern Airlines plane, which slid off the north runway after landing in the morning.

An additional 372 departing flights were delayed and seven cancelled, according to the Airport Authority.

Additional reporting by Danny Lee and Danny Mok