Aviation

Passengers stuck for hours after Qantas jet makes emergency landing in NZ military base

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Qantas passengers claim they were stuck on a plane for four hours after their flight made an emergency landing in New Zealand.

On Sunday, QF171 was travelling from Melbourne to Wellington when it was forced to make an emergency landing at Ohakea military base, some 150 kilometres north of Wellington.

The Boeing 737 diverted due to a mechanical issue where it landed without incident, as it was unable to land in Wellington because its runway was “too short”, a Qantas spokesperson told Travel Weekly. Weather conditions at Palmerston North meant the aircraft could not land there either.

However, after the plane landed safely in Ohakea, passengers were unable to alight from the aircraft until customs officials arrived after a two-hour drive from Wellington.

As a result, passengers and crew had to remain on the parked aircraft.

Ryan Newington, a passenger on board, said that it was “incredibly hot” in the cabin as a result of air conditioning being turned off on the stationary aircraft, and that passengers eventually made their way off the plane some two hours later.

Another alleged passenger added that the crew were “doing their utmost best to help and keep positive in super challenging circumstances.”

“But two hours until we can … dunno, get customs to consider letting us out? No WiFi, poor reception, and water and crackers,” he said. “At least we landed somewhere!”

Other passengers, including Newington, reported waiting four hours to get off the plane, before eventually making their way to Wellington on busses. They have accused the airline of a lack of communication after the incident.

Upon arrival in Wellington, Newington said people were left “lost and confused” and “unsure about what happened to their connecting flights”, while fellow passenger Annette Parkin told ABC News that when they finally got off the plane, they heard nothing from Qantas.

“It was just like they dropped responsibility for us,” Parkin said, adding that she would not be flying with the carrier again.

“The staff onboard [were] absolutely impeccable. I think they did a great job in a really trying situation, but Qantas as a company, [I’m] very disappointed and will not travel with them again,” she said.

Travel Weekly understands that passengers were delayed a total of eight hours as a result of multiple interruptions in travel.

Qantas has apologised for the disruption, but said “safety will always be our first priority”.

Another passenger tweeted that it was a “difficult problem to solve” for the airline.

“Can’t leave plane because no customs, can’t fly plane as broken, can’t get replacement plane (easily at least) as at air base,” she wrote on Twitter.

Featured image: “Off!!!” by @RyanLNewington/Twitter

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