Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 and A340 planes have suffered embarrassing toilet blockages over the past two weeks that resulted in one plane being diverted and two others forced to restrict the number of passengers on board.
The reports first surfaced in the South China Morning Post after a flight from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia to Hongkong on November 17 was forced to divert to Mumbai, when flight attendants realised that none of the plane’s ten toilets was working. The diversion caused an 18-hour delay on what was scheduled to have been an eight-hour flight.
The two other affected flights were from Rome to Hongkong on November 9 and Dubai to Hongkong on November 19.
In both cases, Cathay Pacific limited the number of passengers on board to fewer than 240 when take-off checks revealed that toilets on one side of the plane were not working.
A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said that the cause of the blockages was unclear.
Carolyn Leung told news agencies that: "You would be amazed at what we find in the pipes when we clean the system – not just face towels but medicine bottles, socks, items of clothing and even children’s stuffed toys.”
The Hongkong-based airline said its engineers were now fitting new pipes and deep-cleaning the toilets.
Cathay's internal guidelines lay down the minimum toilet-to-passenger ratio in Economy Class should be one to 80.