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Weather traps pax on planes at opposite ends of world

April 20, 2015 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Rough weather kept passengers sitting on planes for hours on two tarmacs at opposite ends of the world over the weekend.

In New Zealand, over 250 people were trapped on a Cathay Pacific A340 aircraft at a military airbase for more than six hours after severe thunderstorms forced the scheduled landing in Auckland to be diverted.

And in the US, rough weather diverted a Denver-bound flight to Colorado Springs, leaving passengers parked on the runway – also for more than six hours.

The New Zealand disruption hit Cathay Pacific flight CX197 from Hong Kong. Instead of a scheduled landing in Auckland at about noon the plane was diverted to Ohakea Air Force base near Palmerston North in the mid North Island.

Ohakea has good long runways but the airbase has no customs and immigration facilities, so all 266 passengers and crew had to wait aboard the plane. The pilots and cabin crew ran out of hours. The plane eventually flew to Auckland (after a fresh crew was flown in) and landed at Auckland at 7.30pm instead of midday.

In the US, Republic Airlines Flight YX4934, operating under the United Express brand, departed Kansas City International Airport heading for Denver but was forced by extreme weather to divert to Colorado Springs.

Republic Airlines said the plane then had to park on the tarmac because of lightning in the area.

Passengers remained on the plane, a de Havilland Dash 8-400 twin-turboprop, for more than six hours until Republic decided to cancel the flight.

“We felt like we were hostages on this plane,” one of the passengers told 9 News in Colorado.

The passengers in New Zealand may have felt likewise.

Written by Peter Needham

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