Nok Airlines is defending the slow evacuation process for the passengers stuck on the plane that crashed off the Chiang Rai runway on Saturday night.
They have already told the the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand that “it was in strict compliance with safety procedures”.
The budget airline issued a statement today responding to online commentary and complaints by passengers that they were kept inside the aircraft cabin for over an hour after the incident. Passengers complained that there were no lights, little communication and little or no ventilation.
They described they were simply told “they were waiting for buses”.
The flight, a Boeing 737-800 service from Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok to Chiang Rai’s Mae Fah Luang airport, landed during heavy rain and skidded off the runway onto the adjacent grass, causing five days of delays (it could be longer) as they remove the plane from the runway verge. The planes undercarriage and landing gear collapsed.
Passengers said the captain turned off the engines, leaving them in a humid, stuffy cabin for over an hour before being evacuated.
But Nok Air initially offered a different story, contradicting the passenger’s posts. Now they’ve offered an apology for any “inconvenience and miscommunication that might have incurred passengers’ displeasure”.
“The airline had followed maximum safety procedures by taking into consideration the passengers in the flight and coordinating with a work unit about evacuating them via a slide from the front door, as a stairway could not be placed properly against the aircraft because of the heavy rain and wet ground.”
“There might also have been animals around which could have posed a danger to the passengers.”
(Yes, really, they included the last sentence)
The flight’s captain is meeting with the CAAT for an initial interview pending a full investigation into the incident. Why he attempted to land during poor weather conditions when he had an option to detour to Chiang Mai airport will be the main focus of the investigation.