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BA apologises for plane faults


By Daniel Machin

Heathrow-bound passengers who twice had to return to a baking-hot Saudi Arabian airport have received an apology from British Airways.

The Boeing 747 flight first had to turn back to Riyadh on Wednesday due to a problem with the wing flaps, while the same problem occurred again on Thursday.

Passengers were reportedly sick during the ordeal and fights apparently broke out at the airport as angry customers made their feelings known.

Dean Jones, who was on board the flight, told the online Daily Mail that in the terminal at Riyadh there was "mayhem" as just one BA worker tried to deal with more than 300 passengers while other ground crew "hid" in a back office.

"Fights broke out and the military turned up," he added. "We were furious they put us back up in the plane when they knew there was a serious problem. BA customer relations have been useless."

Passengers had to make their own way to their accommodation after returning to the airport on the first occasion. They were then told to return at 3am for a flight on the same plane that eventually took off at 8.45am.

However 30 minutes after take-off the wing flap problem occurred again, forcing the plane to turn around and head back to Riyadh.

After landing around 70 passengers refused to leave and called for an official to explain what was happening.

The sit-in organiser said: "It was extremely hot but we had to make a stand. But nobody came to speak to us."

BA has since issued an apology to the customers on board the flight, offering them compensation, expenses and complimentary tickets as a gesture of goodwill.

"The safety of our customers and crew is always our first concern and due to a technical problem, the decision was taken to return the aircraft to Riyadh," said a spokesman for the airline.

"Our crew and customer service teams did everything they could to care for customers, and we provided overnight hotel accommodation. We sent a replacement aircraft to fly them to the UK."

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