A second attempt at flying passengers to Lagos by Emirates Airlines was aborted Sunday morning as another pilot opted out of using the aircraft for the journey.
The development heightened tension among already tensed passengers whose flight out of Dubai Airport is now rescheduled for the second time.
It also generates further safety concerns as some passengers flay the airliner for “trying to play with their lives”.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how a Boeing 777-300 aircraft leaving for Lagos developed a fault with its air conditioning system just before take off, leading to abortion of the service.
The plane was taxing preparatory to taking off when the pilot reported that it was not safe to fly due to the detected problem.
The incident created commotion among passengers on board.
The pilot recommended passengers to be evacuated for the problem to be fixed “in 30 minutes”.
But anxiety developed in the cabin as the evacuation did not start early.
A fast change in the cabin temperature heightened the passengers’ anxiety in spite of the attempts of the pilot to calm the situation.
The flight, which was due to leave at 3:55 a.m. local time, was still unable to move over an hour later.
With increased tension, the pilot announced improvisation of the cabin air pressure, which gradually restored the air condition around 5:15 a,m.
At 5:32 a.m. the aircraft was finally connected to a boarding tube, to the relief of the pensive passengers.
The pilot announced a new boarding time of 7:30 a.m. to allow for “reorganisation of the aircraft and crew”.
When the time came for the second boarding, some passengers demanded that the aircraft be changed entirely to guarantee safety.
But Emirates Airlines passenger services manager, Khaldoun Salha, who was at the C7 boarding gate, told passengers that the aircraft was fit to fly.
He insisted that the fault with the plane was a minor one which had been fixed.
Asked why the initial crew withdrew from flying even after the maintenance, Mr Salha said the pilot had to retire because his flying hours for the day were due.
But Mr Salha’s claims turned out to be false as was soon discovered by the passengers, and members of the crew.
Long after boarding was completed and the doors latched, the aircraft remained still.
This time, however, the air conditioning system was working.
After about an hour of little movement within the tarmac, the pilot reported cancellation of the flight.
He announced a new departure time of 12 noon, local time, promising that another aircraft would be deployed for the route.