JOHANNESBURG. 6 August 2019. South African Airways (SAA) would like to apologize to all its passengers for the inconvenience and anxiety caused to all its customers who flew from Johannesburg and Accra to Washington D.C. on Sunday.
Two unconnected incidents contributed to the delay in departure from Accra on Sunday night. The first was damage to the aircraft door and subsequent to that, a technical problem occurred which led to a decision to night-stop in Accra whilst waiting for a replacement aircraft.
SAA operated a scheduled flight, SA 209 on Sunday from Johannesburg to Washington D.C. via Accra. The flight operated in a normal way from Johannesburg to Accra using Airbus A330-200.
Whilst on the ground in Accra, there was a delay which lasted for approximately three hours after an aircraft door was damaged by a catering truck operated by SAA’s service provider at that airport. The aircraft door was fixed, inspected and found to be in working order to operate.
The stop-over in Accra en route to the United States is part of SAA’s operations in that market and serves to offload and pick up passengers as well as to refuel.
After refuelling, the aircraft took off at approximately 03h13 UTC but soon returned to the airport in Accra when the cockpit crew noticed that the aircraft was experiencing a technical problem, which was detected in the cockpit. The operating crew followed standard operating procedures in cases of emergencies throughout and landed the aircraft safely as soon as possible.
The incident led to an operational decision that it was undesirable to continue to operate the flight to Washington D.C.
There is no information or basis to make a connection between damage to the aircraft door and the technical problem experienced in the cockpit while the aircraft was airborne.
Contrary to reports on social media and other platforms, SAA would like to reiterate that there was no fire in the cockpit. No one was injured and the aircraft made an air-turn back and landed safely in Accra with all 223 passengers on board and the operating crew.
The aircraft is still on the ground in Accra and is being attended to by the technicians to establish the cause of the technical problem.
SAA provided hotel accommodation to its customers in Accra and provided other services to mitigate the impact of the inconvenience to our passengers. In addition, SAA dispatched a replacement aircraft from Johannesburg to Accra to fly the passengers to their final destination.
The flight departed from Accra at 18h01 UTC on Monday, operated as SA9209 and has landed in Washington D.C. on Tuesday at 04h21 UTC.
Whilst the incidents could not have been foreseen, the decision was taken based on safety considerations, in the best interests of passengers and crew.
SAA is grateful that our crew followed every safety procedure and did not discount anything.
About South African Airways
South African Airways (SAA) is the leading carrier in Africa, serving 57 destinations, in partnership with SA Express, Airlink, and its low-cost carrier, Mango, within South Africa and across the continent, and nine intercontinental routes from its Johannesburg hub. It is a member of the largest international airline network, Star Alliance. SAA’s core business is the provision of passenger airline and cargo transport services together with related services, which are provided through SAA and its wholly owned subsidiaries: SAA Technical; Mango its low-cost carrier; and Air Chefs, the catering entity of SAA. SAA is the winner of the Best Airline Staff Service award in the Africa category; this shows that our customer-facing employees are our true brand ambassadors who made a difference to millions of travelling customers. SAA is one of six airlines globally certified as IEnvA Stage 2, the highest and most comprehensive level in terms of environmental regulatory compliance and governance thereto.