Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific was forced to redirect its CX250 flight from London Heathrow to Hong Kong to Novosibirsk International Airport in Russia on Wednesday (November 23) following a signal in the flight deck indicating a possible fire in the aft cargo hold. The unscheduled landing took place approximately six hours into the 12-hour journey, which departed London at 1802 on November 22.
A statement released by the airline on Wednesday noted that despite the signal, “there is no evidence that there was a fire in the aft cargo hold” at this time and no injuries were reported among the 212 passengers and 18 crew who were on board the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
In response to the diversion, Cathay Pacific arranged a separate aircraft to travel to Novosibirsk to help passengers and crew fly to Hong Kong. The supplementary aircraft CX2251 departed from Hong Kong International Airport at 1547 local time with replacement crew, engineers and ground staff. At the time of the statement, Cathay expected the flight to arrive at Novosibirsk at 2130 local time and depart at 0030 local time today (Thursday, November 24).
A spokesperson for the airline said: “Safety is always our top priority and we would like to thank the Novosibirsk authorities and local teams for the support they have extended to our operation and passengers. We also appreciate the understanding of our passengers as well as the prompt actions of the flight and cabin crew.” Following the incident, cabin crew accompanied passengers to provide support, and travellers were accommodated at nearby hotels and had meal services provided.
According to one passenger, many of the passengers aboard were asleep at the time of the alert and were woken by a busy cabin crew following an announcement by the pilot that a precautionary landing would be made due to a technical issue, the South China Morning Post reports. The crew were “friendly and calm throughout the flight” added the passenger, though at the time of the Post’s article, none of the passengers had received information regarding compensation.
Speaking to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific, a media representative from Cathay said that the airline is currently looking at compensation on an individual basis.