Qantas says Canberra Airport held its Boeing 737 with passengers for ‘ransom’ of $18,000 diversion charge in March 2017.
The airline said Canberra Airport prevented one of its Boeing 737-800 carrying about 170 people, from departing until a diversion charge of $18,000 was paid immediately by credit card by parking a car behind the 737-800 and refusing to move it. reported Aviation Australia.
The aircraft was flying from Auckland to Sydney was diverted to Canberra because of bad weather and the airport insisted on paying the diversion charges before let it takeoff. The Airline said the 737 was allowed to takeoff only after the involvement of senior Qantas management.
Qantas slammed the behaviour of Canberra Airport in handling the diversion incident and said the cost of diversion of a 737 at a similar-sized airport is about $2,000.
According to Qantas, diversions are by their nature, unexpected and pilots make a decision to divert closest airport on safety.
As reported in Aviation Australia, Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron has denied Qantas claims and said “We did park an operations vehicle behind it. The operations vehicle was in touch with the control tower, ..the pilots,… and the Qantas ground ops crew,”
“When they got given their slot time, they started to prepare for getting away and so we facilitated – because it was our stairs – the stairs getting taken away from the aircraft.
“Then there was an eight-minute delay with the aircraft behind while we were talking to senior Qantas management to get a commitment from them that this wouldn’t happen again and we would negotiate an international diversion agreement, which we now have in place.”