Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 8 August 2020

Istanbul airport closes as Sharjah flight skids off runway in bad weather

The airliner was pictured flat on the grass surrounded by emergency services

Istanbul's second airport has suspended flights after an incident involving a flight from Sharjah.

The Pegasus plane, which left Sharjah International on Tuesday morning for Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, appeared to have slid off the runway after touching down in strong winds.

Images from the scene showed emergency vehicles surrounding the plane, which was apparently stranded on the grass next to the runways. No-one was injured and the plane was safely evacuated of its passengers and crew.

"A plane came off the runway and was embedded in the earth," an airport official told the Reuters news agency. "Work on rescuing the plane is continuing. The strong winds are hindering the work."

Pegasus Airlines said the plane had encountered a "runway excursion" and that an investigation had been launched.

All departures from the airport were suspended, while the incident was dealt with. It is expected to remain closed until at least 9pm. Arrivals have been diverted to other airports, with the incident causing major disruption to passengers with the airport a major hub for connecting flights.

The Turkish DHA news agency reported passengers used emergency slides to leave the aircraft.

The Istanbul governor’s office said there were 164 passengers on board.

The PC747 flight, a Boeing 737-800, departed Sharjah at 5.15am and arrived in Istanbul on time at 9.30am.

Storms and heavy rain have affected transportation in the city since Sunday night.

Passengers using the airport have been advised to contact their airlines for further information.

It is the latest incident of a flight coming off a runway to affect Pegasus, a low-cost airline, in Turkey.

In 2018, a Boeing 737-800 skidded off the runway at Trabzon on the Black Sea coast and plunged down the side of a cliff overlooking the sea. The 168 passengers and crew left the aircraft safely.

In a statement following today's incident, a spokeswoman for Pegasus said: "The Pegasus Airlines flight PC747, on a TC-CCK registered aircraft, travelling from Sharjah International Airport, UAE, to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen, Turkey, on 7 January 2020 experienced a runway excursion after landing at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen.

"All passengers and cabin crew have been disembarked safely from the aircraft. There has been no loss of life or injury to anyone on-board. The necessary investigations have begun and we will continue to provide information with regards to any further updates."

Updated: January 7, 2020 04:41 PM

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