Airbus diverted to Mumbai airport


Toilets on the Hong Kong-based airline’s A330 and A340 Airbuses have become blocked three times in the space of 11 days, with one flight diverted and two others forced to reduce passenger numbers.

In the worst case, a flight from Riyadh to Hong Kong on November 17 with 278 passengers on board had to divert to Mumbai when flight attendants discovered none of the 10 toilets on board were working.

The diversion for repairs and crew change resulted in an 18-hour delay for what should have been a routine eight-hour flight. Passengers received an apology and vouchers as compensation.

Two other Hong Kong-bound flights — one from Rome on  November 9 and another from Dubai on November 19 — had to cut passenger numbers when crew found out before the take off that all toilets on one side of the plane were blocked. Cathay Pacific and Airbus both said they were unsure about the exact cause.

Passengers might be partly to blame, the airline suggested. “You would be amazed at what we find in the pipes when we clean the system — not just face towels but medicine bottles, socks and even children’s stuffed toys,” airline spokeswoman said.

Engineers are now fitting new pipes and carrying out treatment on the toilets of its entire fleet, starting with its worst-hit 15 Airbus A340s and 32 Airbus A330s.
In a memo to staff, the airline’s director of flight operations Nick Rhodes said the problem was “possibly due to a change in the cleaning procedure.”

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