Update: 15th March – Emirates has now confirmed the crew member involved in this incident has sadly died from her injuries. A more detailed update is included below…
Details have emerged of a particularly distressing incident in which a member of cabin crew at the Dubai-based airline, Emirates allegedly “jumped” from the open door of a parked Boeing 777 jet at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. There are conflicting reports as to whether the cabin crew member has died or remains in a critical condition in hospital.
We decided to hold back publishing details of the incident until we had received more information – although the exact circumstances surrounding this tragic event have still not been made public.
The incident unfolded on Wednesday afternoon as the crew onboard flight EK730, operated by a Boeing 777-300, were preparing the plane for its departure back to Dubai. The plane had only landed in Uganda a short time before.
Media reports in Uganda claim witnesses saw a female member of cabin crew arguing with colleagues before opening one of the aircraft doors and jumping from it onto the tarmac below. It’s claimed the crew member was holding a glass bottle below her chin at the time she fell.
Graphic images of the injured crew member laying on the ground have been shared online – but in respect of the individual and her family, we will not reproduce them here. A member of ground staff can be seen standing over the crew member who is wearing the distinctive Emirates uniform.
The long-serving Emirates crew member was of Bulgarian descent and had been working as an onboard cabin supervisor for a number of years. We have decided not to share further personal details of the crew member to maintain her privacy.
In a statement, the Ugandan authorities said they had transported the crew member to hospital after initiating an emergency protocol at the airport. There are now conflicting reports as to whether the crew member remains in a serious condition or has in fact sadly died as a result of her injuries.
Emirates has not yet publicly acknowledged the incident and the official UAE news agency hasn’t covered the story at all. We reached out to Emirates for further information and to find out what they were doing to support the crew member and her family but unfortunately, the airline blocked our communication.
We also wanted to find out specifically what Emirates were doing to support the other crew caught up in this awful incident and how they were assisting the Ugandan authorities in their investigation. Again, we were unable to make any contact with the Emirates team.
However, in an emailed statement to The Points Guy, a representative from the airline said of the incident: “We can confirm that a member of our cabin crew, unfortunately, fell from an open door while preparing the aircraft for boarding on flight EK729 from Entebbe today (14 March 2018).”
“The injured crew member was brought to the nearest hospital. We are providing all possible support and care for the affected crew, and will extend our full co-operation to the authorities in their investigation.”
In an internal memo, the airline’s head of service delivery, Thomas Ney has now confirmed the crew member died in what he describes as a “tragic incident”. The emailed note continues:
“We do not know all the circumstances surrounding the incident, but the authorities are investigating, and we have extended our full cooperation.”
Of particular concern, however, is the revelation that the flight departed Entebbe just an hour and a half later than scheduled. This may seem particularly remarkable given the fact that area should have been treated like a crime scene and witness statements would need to have been taken from any witnesses including other crew members.
What’s even more concerning though, is the fact the cabin crew were expected to operate a flight having just gone through such a horrifying incident. Clearly, there are concerns as to whether the operating crew would have been able to concentrate on the safety-critical aspects of their role after this tragic accident (regardless of whether there was a change of crew or not).
As it stands, it’s understood that many in the Emirates cabin crew community will be waking on Thursday to hopefully read some form of official communication from their employer about this horrible event. If we hear anything, we’ll be sure to post it.
Emirates has now said that they have “been in touch with the operating crew throughout. They were met by our teams when they landed back in Dubai and were provided full support.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.