- A Lufthansa Airbus A350 flying out of Cape Town diverted to Luanda, Angola, after suffering an engine issue on Saturday.
- Passengers were stuck on the plane for hours after landing, and their passports were confiscated.
- Some customers departed on flights the same day, while others were trapped in the country until Monday.
- For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
On Saturday, 271 Lufthansa customers were stranded in Luanda, Angola, after their Airbus A350 aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing, the carrier confirmed to Insider on Monday.
The jet was flying from Cape Town to Munich, Germany, when the plane suffered a “technical irregularity in an engine display” and diverted to the Central African nation, per Lufthansa.
“The cockpit crew then decided to shut down one engine for landing as a precaution and to land in Luanda with priority status,” the airline told Insider. “The aircraft landed safely. Safety on board was not compromised at any time.”
The Aviation Herald, a commercial aircraft accident and incident reporting publication, reported on Monday that the plane was still on the ground in Luanda 20 hours after landing and will need its left engine replaced. Lufthansa told Insider it sent a team of technicians to inspect the aircraft.
According to German news channel NTV, the Angolan military confiscated the passengers’ passports in Luanda because they did not have the proper entry documents, and passengers were stuck on the plane for hours before being allowed to disembark.
The airline told Insider the passengers were given a hotel room, where they “were looked after around the clock by Lufthansa staff.”
It further explained each customer was rebooked within 48 hours. However, NTV reported some passengers were offered flights for days or even weeks later, but Lufthansa told Insider that all passengers will have left by Monday — three days after the diversion to Luanda.
“The first passengers [left] already on Saturday, the remaining passengers fly [Monday] with LH561 via Frankfurt to their destinations,” the carrier said. LH561 is a regularly scheduled flight that Lufthansa operates three times a week.
According to Lufthansa, it did not send a rescue flight to retrieve the passengers. Aviation attorney Emile Myburgh, who was involved in the repatriation flight between South Africa and Brazil during the pandemic, told Insider that the airline would need permission for a rescue, making it difficult to quickly send an empty plane, but it is not forbidden by Angola.
This is not the first time this year an airline has landed in less-than-preferred diversion airports. In November, a United Airlines Boeing 787 flying from London Heathrow to San Francisco diverted to Iqaluit in the Canadian Arctic due to a mechanical issue.
Because the small city did not have the necessary maintenance crews, the carrier was forced to cancel a flight from Denver to Frankfurt and reroute the empty aircraft to rescue the stranded passengers.