KUALA LUMPUR - An AirAsia X plane bound for Jeddah spent about four hours circling over the Straits of Malacca on Sunday apparently to burn fuel to enable it to return and land safely.
The plane, which took off at about 12.20pm, returned safely to KL International Airport 2 at about 5.40pm.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said AirAsia X flight D7172 experiened a "technical error" shortly after taking off at KLIA2 and the "incident is being investigated."
"I have been told those on board are safe. The pilot had to fly for about four hours to burn fuel to make the aircraft lighter in order to land safely," Liow said.
AirAsia X chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes confirmed "it was a normal routine return to base."
"It could have continued (its journey) to Jeddah but we felt it was better for it to return, nothing out of the normal," he told Bernama.
AirAsia X said in a statement: "As a safety precaution and in full compliance with all international security and safety standards, the aircraft made a turn back and safely landed at KLIA2 at 5.40pm."
"All passengers on board the aircraft are now being transferred to another aircraft in which the flight is scheduled for 7pm today," it said.