Close to 200 passengers on Thursday were grounded in the Kurdistan Region’s capital of Erbil, confined to the airport for over nine hours without their luggage, according to a local official.
“The plane was to leave for Turkey at one o’clock in the afternoon… due to technical difficulties, the flight was delayed,” Head of Erbil Provincial Council, Ali Rashid, who was also stranded in the airport, told Kurdistan 24.
“All passengers, including children, the elderly, and the ill, had to evacuate the plane. After a short while, we boarded the plane again but were forced to deplane once more as technical issues had not yet been resolved.”
According to Rashid, Turkish-based international airline AtlasJet did not delay the flight to the next day and passengers were unable to retrieve their luggage.
“We are just stuck here,” he added.
The airline had no additional planes available in Erbil, and passengers were left feeling restless and frustrated as to why another aircraft was not sent from Istanbul, a three-hour-flight away.
“No employee,” management or otherwise, “was there to answer our questions,” Rashid pointed out.
The stranded passengers ate meals in the hallway of the airport and remained trapped in the airport as their luggage remained in cargo.
Rashid eventually contacted the Erbil International Airport (EIA) Manager, Talar Fayaq, and was simply told that the plane “is not working and they [the staff] do not know what to do.”
Rashid, as Head of the Erbil Provincial Council, stated that the council would host a special meeting regarding the incident and conduct an investigation into the managerial shortcomings he witnessed.
Kurdistan 24 has, as of yet, not been able to confirm whether the issue has been resolved.