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Two Expat Flight Attendants Working for Saudi Arabian Airlines Seriously Injured in Another Work Bus Crash

Two Expat Flight Attendants Working for Saudi Arabian Airlines Seriously Injured in Another Work Bus Crash

Story Highlights
  • Three flight attendants hurt in crash, at least two said to be in critical condition
  • Occurred yesterday on a bus that transports cabin crew to and from the airport
  • Bus collided with a mobile crane, almost ripping off the roof
  • An accident involving a Saudia crew bus in August killed one flight attendant
  • Critics say bus drivers work 16-hour days with just one day off a week

Three expat flight attendants for the Saudi Arabian flag carrier, Saudia were seriously injured yesterday when the bus carrying them from Riyadh airport to their accommodation crashed with a mobile crane on a highway.  Pictures shared on social media of the accident show the roof of the bus almost torn off, crimpled backwards from where the front has collided with the crane.

The Saudia logo and colours are still clearly visible on the side of the badly damaged bus. It’s common practice for full-service airlines in the Middle East to provide bus transportation for cabin crew between company-provided accommodation and the airport. But unlike some airlines such as Emirates that has recently invested in a brand new fleet of high-quality coaches, critics have expressed concerns about Saudia’s bus fleet.

Two of the injured flight attendants are said to be from India and a third originally hails from the Philippines.  While one of the injured cabin crew is believed to have already been discharged from hospital, the other two remain in the intensive care unit of a Riyadh area hospital. The driver of the bus was also injured and admitted to hospital but his condition remains unknown.

The injuries sustained by the flight attendants are not known and Saudia has so far declined to comment on the incident.

According to the popular Fly Guy’s Crew Lounge blog, Saudia’s largely female expat flight attendant community are scared to ride on the company’s buses for fear of an accident. In some cases, the drivers who are themselves foreign workers mostly from the Indian subcontinent are expected to work for 16-hours per day with just one day off a week.

Flight attendants speaking on condition of anonymity say the buses don’t have proper seatbelts and claim they are often transported in cramped conditions.

“The problem is a combination of the really old busses with seats that are not meant for two grown people to share with seatbelts that don’t protect your chest, the really long duty hours the drivers have to do driving all the time back and forth,” said one unnamed Saudia crew member.

“The time we are supposed to have for ourselves before entering on the operations to start our demanding duty is the time we are more stressed because we never know if the driver is ok, if someone will hit us or if we will have a tragic accident that might result on death,” the staffer continued.

In August, one Saudia flight attendant was killed and 11 others injured when the company bus collided with a truck on the way to King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.  On that occasion, Saudia confirmed one of its cabin crew had been killed, naming the victim as Khawla Zemzari from Tunisia.  Khawla was just 30 years old.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest traffic-related death rates in the world with officials admitting that there were 13,221 road fatalities in the kingdom in 2018 alone.

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