Outrage over ‘nightmare’ Kulula flight experience

By Kailene Pillay

Durban – A Durban woman and her family are still reeling in shock and have vowed to never fly again after a “nightmare” Kulula flight on Sunday night.

Kulula Airlines aircraft painted with humorous slogans on it
Kulula Airlines aircraft painted with humorous slogans on it

Musgrave resident Severani Moodley said they were on a flight from Johannesburg to Durban when they and all the other passengers were forced to remain inside the aircraft for almost three hours while two fire engines raced around to determine the cause of smoke emanating from one of the engines.

Moodley said when they boarded the flight, a “weird” sound could be heard as the pilot started the engines. Shortly afterwards the lights in the plane abruptly went off and smoke surrounded the aircraft.

“The worst part through this entire ordeal was that none of the flight attendants or pilots informed us of what was going on.

“We were left to panic. And after two hours the pilot told the passengers we were ready to fly, without giving us an explanation of what had happened or even apologising,” she said.

Still shaken, Moodley said her family and other passengers called loved ones from the flight, telling them they were scared they may not land safely.

Kulula spokesperson William Smook confirmed to The Mercury that one of the engines on flight MN539 emitted “some” smoke. He said at no stage were passengers or personnel in any danger.

“The delay cited by your readers was due to rigorous inspections to ensure the safety of all aboard, our foremost priority at all times.

“Comair has an internationally-renowned safety record and we won’t compromise on that,” he said.

Although Smook did not respond to allegations that Kulula staff were rude to passengers, he said the matter was referred to their customer relations team and the crew had been given “constructive feedback on the incident”.

Moodley said during the ordeal she asked a flight attendant if they were in danger. The attendant allegedly told her she could disembark, but would not be refunded for the flight. The Mercury.