A plane full of Qatar Airways passengers who were hoping to fly from the Maldives to Doha were left stranded at Male airport for more than 16-hours after the first aircraft they were on had to make an emergency return and then a replacement plane that was sent to rescue them had a technical issue that took it out of action.
Issues started on Friday evening when passengers onboard Qatar Airways flight QR677 were told around 45 minutes after departure from Male that they would have to return to the Maldives because of a ‘technical issue’ which meant the plane could continue on to Doha.
It was later revealed that the left flight deck windshield had cracked shortly after takeoff which prompted an emergency return to Male where the plane safely landed without incident. But replacing a flight deck windshield isn’t necessarily a quick or simple job so passengers were told to get comfortable while a replacement aircraft was despatched from Doha.
After spending the night sleeping at the airport, the passengers were starting to board the replacement Boeing 777-300 plane when they were told that this aircraft also had technical problems and wouldn’t be able to take them to Doha either.
“Delayed indefinitely? No communication. Lies about status of plane. Two planes boarded; 1 turned around mid flight,” wrote one passenger on Twitter in a plea to Qatar Airways. “#IWantToGoHome,” the message continued.
“QR677 14 hours delayed and counting. No hotel. 1 stupid meal and snack voucher. Put us on a more reliable airline and GET US HOME,” the same passenger wrote in frustration as the delayed dragged on.
“What are you hiding about your planes? QR677 flight midair told “technical difficulties” turned back to Male. In reality a shattered windshield. Slept overnight at gate. Started to board flight 13 hours later…stopped boarding. More “technical difficulties.” No info”
So, Qatar Airways was forced to send a third aircraft to Male to rescue the passengers and thankfully this Boeing 777-200 got them to Doha safely. The other two aircraft remain on the ground in the Maldives while they are fixed.
Thankfully, Qatar Airways had aircraft to spare despite the fact that the airline was forced to ground 13 Airbus A350 planes earlier this week over safety concerns that followed an “explicit written instruction” from Qatar’s civil aviation regulator.
Qatar Airways had already stopped taking delivery of new A350 aircraft over a known issue which it says relates to the surface just underneath the paint surface that is “degrading at an accelerated rate”.
“With this latest development, we sincerely expect that Airbus treats this matter with the proper attention that it requires,” the airline’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker blasted on Thursday.
“Qatar Airways will not accept anything other than aircraft that continue to offer its customers the highest possible standard of safety and the best travel experience that they deserve,” Al Baker continued.
The airline said it was still waiting for aircraft manufacturer Airbus to find the root cause of the problem and that the planes would remained grounded until a solution was implemented. Qatar Airways did not provide an estimate of how long this process would take.
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.