SAA apologised for leaving the passengers and explained how it happened.
It said on Friday evening before departure from Frankfurt to Moscow, one of the aircraft doors indicated a fault with its emergency escape slide, which is an important functionality for emergency evacuation purposes.
“We took a decision not to operate the flight on the day (Friday) hoping the situation would be resolved (the) next day,” SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said.
He said in this case, as the aircraft door could not be fixed in a short space of time. On Saturday, SAA implemented the prescribed passenger-to-aircraft door ratio and regrettably had to leave around 45 passengers behind.
“Those passengers were ticketed and were impacted by the aircraft door that could not operate the emergency escape slide. They were not part of the unticketed group,” Tlali said.
He said while the aircraft door could still open and close, SAA could not discount a possibility of an emergency, however remote or unlikely.
“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to our passengers and trust they understand that we took that decision in the interest of their safety and of our crew.
“The aircraft was at all times airworthy and landed in Johannesburg on Sunday morning with 270 passengers from both Frankfurt and Moscow.”
Tlali said there were consultations under way to determine how best to assist the passengers who were left behind.
“Our team in Germany is in touch with as many of the passengers left behind to provide required assistance, including accommodation,” Tlali said.