Qantas passengers stranded at Changi

Qantas passengers stranded at Changi
PHOTO: The Straits Times

After a 23-hour wait, passengers of Qantas Airways Flight QF36, originally bound for Melbourne from Singapore on Sunday evening, were finally able to depart Changi Airport yesterday at 6.54pm. But another flight to Melbourne has been retimed, with a possible 19-hour wait.

Passengers of QF36 were stranded overnight when their plane, which had been on its way from Brisbane, failed to land at the airport.

Many had returned to the airport yesterday morning, only to be told that their flight would not be leaving until later in the day.

A spokesman for the Australian flag carrier explained that the original flight arriving from Brisbane had to be diverted to the airport in Batam due to "congestion at Changi Airport as a result of the airport's closure for SG50 flyover celebrations".

The Straits Times understands that the plane had to refuel in Batam, but a lengthy delay arose when its flight crew was discovered to have exceeded their flight hours.

The plane was forced to remain there until a new crew could be flown over to man the plane, and arrived in Singapore only at 4.39am yesterday.

As a result, flights QF36 (scheduled to depart Singapore for Melbourne on Sunday at 7.55pm) and QF6 (scheduled for an 11.50pm departure on the same day) were delayed.

QF6 departed Singapore only at 10.18am yesterday, while passengers of QF36 had to endure a nearly 23-hour delay before their flight left at 6.54pm yesterday.

QF36, however, would not be a direct flight to Melbourne, with passengers having to transit at Darwin.

While the Qantas spokesman said that those affected were put up in hotels or at the airport lounge and meal vouchers were provided, disgruntled passengers have lashed out at what they perceived as a lack of clear communication from the airline.

Meanwhile, another flight to Melbourne, scheduled to leave at 7.55pm last evening, appeared to have been retimed, with a queue of confused passengers forming at the Qantas customer service desk.

Customer service officer Adly Mohd Sham, 26, who had been booked on the flight with a friend, said they had arrived at the airport at 4pm to discover the flight was delayed. He said nobody had explained to him why the delay had arisen, and that he would miss his transfer flight to Tasmania.

As of press time, Qantas had yet to respond to media inquiries on why yesterday's flight was delayed. According to its website, the flight is now scheduled to depart today at 3pm.

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