Nok Airlines has defended the hour-long evacuation of passengers from the plane that crashed off the runway after landing in Chiang Rai on Saturday night, saying it was in strict compliance with safety procedures.
Nok Airlines Plc gave the explanation in a statement issued on Tuesday in response to complaints by passengers that most of them had been kept inside the stuffy aircraft cabin for over an hour, without lights and without an adequate air flow, told only that they were waiting for buses.
Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) director Suttipong Kongpool, said on Monday that the chief pilot of Flight DD108 would be summoned to explain the delay.
The Don Mueang-Chiang Rai flight with 164 passengers and six crew slid off the runway and its undercarriage collapsed as it landed in heavy rain at Mae Fah Luang international airport about 9.06pm.
Passengers said the captain turned off the engines, leaving the passenger cabin in darkness and without air-conditioning. They had been left in stuffy conditions for over an hour before being evacuated.
In the statement, Nok Air offered an apology for any inconvenience and miscommunication that might have incurred passengers' displeasure.
It said the airline had followed maximum safety procedures by taking into consideration the passengers in the flight and coordinating with a work unit about evacuating them via a slide from the front door, as a stairway could not be placed properly against the aircraft because of the heavy rain and wet ground.
Moreover, there might also have been animals around which could have posed a danger to the passengers.
Therefore, the passengers were told to wait until their safety was assured, the statement said.