Air France pilot asks passengers to chip in for fuel
Friday, 17. August 2012, 17:04
Air France pilot asks passengers to chip in for fuel after unscheduled landing in Damascus
Passengers on an Air France flight were asked to 'chip in
for fuel' after their plane was forced to land in the strife-torn Syrian
The jet from Paris had been heading to Beirut, Lebanon,
when fighting broke out on the main road to the airport on Wednesday night.
The captain first decided to divert to Amman in Jordan
before realising he did not have enough fuel to get there.
So he requested emergency permission to land in Syria,
where rebels are battling to overturn President Bashar Assad's tyrannical
Once on the ground in Damascus, the crew told the 174
passengers they could not use the Air France 'company credit card' to refuel
the plane because of financial sanctions imposed on Syria by the west.
They then asked the mainly French and Lebanese travellers
how much cash they were carrying to pay for the thousands of litres of kerosene
needed to reach Larnaca in Cyprus - the nearest safe airport.
A 42-year-old passenger named Najib said: 'We went down in
Syria where there were lots of soldiers looking very threatening.
'We were then told there were some problems and that there
was no money to pay for the fuel.
'They asked if the passengers could contribute for the
refueling which could only be paid for in cash.'
But the Lebanese businessman added: 'As people were
rummaging through their handbags and wallets, we were told a solution had been
found to the problem.'
'Because of the terrible relations between France and
Syria, a lot of the passengers were very worried about landing there.'
An Air France spokesman later confirmed that the
passengers had been asked for money after in landed in Damascus on Wednesday.
He added: "The crew at first offered to pay for the
fuel in Damascus with a credit card but the transaction was impossible because of
'As a precaution and in anticipation, the crew asked how
much money the passengers had in cash to pay to fill up with fuel.
'However a solution was finally found to fill up the plane
without borrowing cash from the passengers and the plane took off for Larnaca
two hours later.'
The plane flew on to Beirut the following day, he said.
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