x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Authorities investigating cause of fire on Abu Dhabi-bound flight

Officials have not yet determined the cause of a fire that broke out on an Air Berlin flight between Phuket and the capital on Thursday night.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of an aircraft fire that forced an Air Berlin flight from Thailand to Abu Dhabi to be aborted shortly after take-off on Thursday night.

Flames were reported in one of the wings of the Airbus A330 after it took off for the UAE capital from the island of Phuket. The plane made an emergency landing at Phuket International Airport, bursting a wheel in the process.

A spokesman from Air Berlin confirmed the incident and said all 249 passengers on board are in good health. No details have yet been released regarding the origin of the fire.

"Air Berlin is in dialogue with the local authorities and is assisting them in their investigation of the incident," the airline said in a statement. "A team of technicians from Air Berlin is already on the way to Phuket."

The affected passengers have been offered accommodation in the resort town and rebooked onto substitute flights today and tomorrow. The airport closed for several hours, but reopened at 3:45am local time.

Etihad Airways is the largest shareholder in Air Berlin. Earlier this week, Etihad signed a deal to buy a 70 per cent stake in Air Berlin's frequent flyer programme as part of a plan to set up the biggest air-miles scheme in the world.

vtodorova@thenational.ae