/ 18 June 2008

Aircraft skids off Durban airport runway

Durban International Airport was closed on Wednesday after an aircraft veered off the runway while landing, the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) said.

British Airways Flight 6203, operated by Comair, was arriving from Johannesburg with 87 passengers and six crew on board when the incident occurred.

Acsa spokesperson Colin Naidoo said: ”On landing, the aircraft went off the runway. We managed to move the passengers off the aircraft and to a safe location.”

Glenda Zvenyika, communications manager for Comair Limited, said the flight had encountered extremely bad weather upon landing in Durban.

”The aircraft hit a wet patch on the runway and skidded, resulting in one of the wheels ending up off the runway as the plane was brought to a stop,” she said.

Lifeline trauma counsellors were at the scene and provided trauma counselling to the passengers and crew.

No major injuries had been reported, Zvenyika said.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha said a woman passenger was taken to Kingsway Hospital. ”She had pain in her ears but I think it was just a bit of shock. She’s in a stable condition,” he said.

”The airport is officially closed due to where the aircraft is on the runway. Once it has been moved and [the area] declared safe, the airport will be re-opened,” Naidoo said.

Zvenyika, in a statement, said initial assessments showed there was minor damage to the aircraft.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is investigating further.

Other flights headed for Durban International have been told to turn back.

The airport was reopened on Wednesday afternoon. — Sapa