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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weather warning forces Qantas A380 down in Pacific

Qantas passengers flying from Los Angeles to Sydney were stuck on the ground on board one of its superjumbos for five hours today after bad weather forecasts forced an unscheduled touchdown in Noumea.
The Airbus A380 with 374 passengers and 26 crew on board had to divert to the Pacific island to refuel after pilots received weather warnings of thick fog on Australia's eastern seaboard.
Passengers were kept on board the plane after Noumea's airport authorities realised the terminal could not cope with the unexpected influx of travellers.The holiday island's airport had an Air Calin Airbus A330 and its passengers to contend with first.
"On arrival in Noumea, an Air Calin (A330) service due for departure meant the terminal was at capacity and we were unable to disembark passengers until all passengers had boarded this service," a Qantas spokeswoman said today.
The pilots decided to land in Noumea was so that the plane could take on extra fuel.
"Safety is our first priority, hence the captain made the decision to divert to Noumea for additional fuel," the spokeswoman said.
Five hours after touchdown the passengers were allowed to leave the plane, but then faced another three-hour wait in the terminal.
Another complication delaying the flight arose when the A380 flight crew reached their maximum on-duty time limit.
Qantas has dispatched a Boeing 747 carrying a replacement crew to bring the passengers back to Sydney in the A380. The flight, QF12, is expected to land at 6.15pm tonight, 12 hours behind schedule.

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