x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

More woe for AirAsia X passengers

The penultimate AirAsia X flight to Kuala Lumpur from Abu Dhabi was suspended this morning, leaving potentially hundreds stranded in the capital.

ABU DHABI // What was expected to be the penultimate AirAsia X flight bound for Kuala Lumpur from Abu Dhabi was suspended this morning, leaving potentially hundreds stranded in the capital. AirAsia X flight 2403 was scheduled to leave at 2.55am, but instead languished on the tarmac at Abu Dhabi International Airport until passengers were asked to disembark at about 7am. About 200 people were on board the near-capacity flight, according to Zubair Mujahid, one of the irate passengers. "Somebody came out on the speaker and announced there's a major problem with the engine component, so maybe it's going to take a long time," said the Pakistani student, 16, who was returning to an automotive college in Malaysia. "Everybody just started shouting, 'What happened? How can that be?"

Many of the passengers had not slept on the plane before being ushered off to board a bus and return to immigration at the airport, he added. "It was supposed to be departing at 2.55am. Right away after one hour, I was trying my best to ask everyone for information about why we're waiting," Zubair said. "They kept telling me just wait, just wait. Two hours go by, then three hours go by. Nobody was answering my questions." Sabahuddin Muhajid, Zubair's father, said that he asked AirAsia X staff several times before the flight's scheduled departure whether it would leave on time. "I checked with them and 21st of February was the last flight and my son was booked to fly on the 21st," he said. An operator with Abu Dhabi airport's flight information telephone inquiries service said the next scheduled departure for flight 2403 is at 2.55am on Monday. The passengers from this morning's flight have been bused to a hotel. AirAsia X, the long-haul arm of the Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia, announced it was to cancel its services between Kuala Lumpur and Abu Dhabi in January, three months after operations began. Azran Osman Rani, CEO of AirAsia X said this morning's delay was not linked to the decision to withdraw services. He said: "It happens and we have to take precautions, we follow all the safety rules and we want to get a part before we take chances. So we'll get the part and of course the pilot has to rest first. "It's normal. If a part's going to take X number of hours to arrive, [the pilot] has to got to step down and rest." mkwong@thenational.ae