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200 passengers narrowly avoid disaster at Faro airport

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

Some 200 passengers on board an easyJet flight from Faro to Gatwick narrowly avoided disaster on Monday evening as their pilot fought to halt the plane on takeoff after engine trouble.

According to a passenger on the flight, this was then followed by a near miss as an incoming plane swooped to avoid a collision with the troubled plane on the runway.

Darren Underdown told the Algarve Resident how the incident was a double blow for those on board as not only were they left “terrified” from the ordeal but the care they then received was “less than satisfactory”.

He said: “We boarded the plane as usual for the flight to take off at around 10.50pm and taxied down to the runway with no problem but it was when we were gaining speed to attempt to take off that the brakes were suddenly slammed on.

“Passengers on the left hand side of the plane said they could see the engine on fire and we were all panicking but it was not until later that we realised just how lucky we had been.”

Darren Underdown described how he had seen one plane land at the airport just before his easyJet plane taxied to the runway and that he then saw another plane making its approach to land.

“I thought to myself ‘what happened to the other plane coming in?’ and it was only when I spoke to another of the passengers that I found out he had been told that the incoming plane had missed ours by between 10 and 12 feet during the incident.

“I have to take my hat off to both the pilots who managed to avert what would have been a huge disaster. It was unreal what they had to deal with.”

While Darren Underdown was full of praise for the pilots involved, he was left unimpressed by the reaction of staff within the airport after the incident.

“We had been left on the plane for some time as fire engines came and the plane was checked out, and the pilot told us that he could not turn the engines back on so we needed to wait to be towed back.

“This was all understandable but when we were taken into the terminal building we were all just left in a room with only two members of staff. I am not sure if they were from easyJet or the airport but they only gave information when small groups asked them.”

He added: “This left a very strange situation of some people running for buses to take them to a hotel while others were left not knowing what was going on.”

By 3am the passengers were all taken to a hotel and then picked up the following morning at 10.30am for a new flight back to Gatwick.

Darren Underdown said: “When I got to the airport I asked the easyJet rep what had gone on. She just shrugged her shoulders and said there had been “technical difficulties”. I then asked if another plane had been involved and she admitted another plane had been involved and then simply replied that we had been very lucky”.

Two emails were sent to Darren Underdown by easyJet, the first shortly after the incident to state that their flight had been cancelled and a second the next day (Tuesday) to apologise for the incident.

“I couldn’t believe that all we got was an email to say sorry from easyJet!  The atmosphere on the plane on Tuesday was terrible, everyone was terrified and I heard more than one comment from people saying they would never fly again,” he said.

The Algarve Resident contacted easyJet but at the time of going to press on Wednesday they had made no comment about the incident.

A spokesman from ANA airports told Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manhã that there had been “technical problems” with a plane but that no external emergency help had been required. The Algarve Resident tried to obtain a comment from ANA but no one was available at the time of going to press.